For Immediate Release
February 18, 2011 – Fort St. John, BC – The Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce represents over 400 members businesses in the area. As the city prepares the 2011 operational budget, the Chamber offers the City some thoughts and considerations from the business community on ways the City can ensure Fort St. John can be competitive and keep taxes as low as possible while offering maximum services to the community.
1. Consider rewarding city departments if they are able to successfully fulfill their objectives and come in under-budget. The city should take every opportunity to develop a culture of tax dollar responsibility through all levels of the City. Prevent the thinking, "if we have the money in the budget, we must spend it", and instead encourage all staff to be thinking about ways to stretch each taxpayer dollar.
2. Continue to work towards securing a long term legislated funding formula or governance model that would see tax revenue from surrounding areas support the City’s capital and operational needs.
3. Review the Hamilton report done in 2009 and provide an overview of how the city has incorporated the recommendations and public input that were compiled in the report.
4. The city should ensure that there are no unrealized opportunities to make additional revenue off of city facilities or services; particularly for user-pay situations and city owned real estate.
5. With respect to downtown revitalization, the Chamber would encourage the City to offer a tax credit to downtown landowners to improve their buildings or develop on empty lots.
6. The City may also wish to seriously explore creating a city-owned development corporation and take a private sector approach to optimizing the use of city owned lands, civic facilities and to encourage and partner on private sector projects that produce long term benefits to the community.
We understand the City may already be working towards many of the suggestions outlined above so please consider our suggestions as an encouragement and offer of support from the Chamber in helping our community achieve these goals.
For further information contact;
Fort St. John & District Chamber of Commerce