It is somewhat ironic that Kamloops Daily News Staff Reporter, Cam Fortems, began his May 10 article by describing “historic Ashcroft” as being hit with a steep tax hike of 20 per cent. Our community was labelled for decades as “historic” Ashcroft until the current Council changed our logo and motto to: Ashcroft – “Wellness awaits you”.
Ashcroft’s Mayor Anderson blamed the councils of the 1990’s for this 20 per cent increase, suggesting that those councils were responsible for this current tax hike. I would like to remind Mayor Anderson about some of our history from the 90s.
The councils of the 90s operated with a fiscally conservative and simple plan, and that was to live within our means. Rather than raise taxes, we had business-minded councillors who suggested we obtain taxation revenue from corporations like the Tie Treatment Plant just outside the Village boundaries, and Council successfully reached a funding agreement there.
When Logan Lake expanded its boundaries to accommodate the expansion of Highland Valley Copper, the Council of the 90s negotiated a $70,000 amendment to their letters patent so that Ashcroft would receive that extra revenue for decades to come.
When Coppervalley Elementary school became surplus to the local School District in the downtown core, the Council of the 90s made a land trade, and eventually sold the property to a developer who built the “Villa Frontera” on the site thus generating new housing, new families and new taxation revenue.
When the IG Machine and Fibres company came to BC looking at eight possible locations for its granular plant that could provide up to 70 full time jobs and 100 years of employment, it was the Council of the 90s that gave them support in Victoria to cut the red tape, and at the Regional District level to help them through the political approval process to get the $40 million plant built in our neck of the woods thereby benefiting our businesses and citizens.
The Council of the 90s also negotiated a $50,000 revenue sharing deal with the Village of Cache Creek that recognized the joint use of Ashcroft’s recreational facilities. These are just some of the reasons why the Councils of the 90s did not have to raise taxes.
The Councils of the late 80’s and 90’s worked with administration to pay off millions of dollars of debt accumulated from the 70s and left the Village of Ashcroft debt free going into the year 2000 and beyond. They also worked with federal and provincial governments to build a new water intake system, the Mesa Vista Road repave, new parks, upgraded recreational facilities, and much more.
Mayor Anderson, in his website message, suggests that Ashcroft is open for business. “We welcome new initiatives and encourage growth within the business community.” How is this tax grab a new business incentive, Mayor Anderson? Blaming your Council’s tax grab on the councils of the 90’s is about as hollow as the promises we have been given for years of an inland port. Perhaps “wellness” will await you in Ashcroft but in order to fill your financial well the current Mayor and Council should compare and take a serious look at the incredible costs of administration and labour they have incurred in the last five years or so in a community that has lost over 15 per cent of its population since the 90s and now consists mostly of senior citizens to bear the burden.
And be honest. Don’t steal the $200 extra grant from our seniors or our families. Develop a plan for infrastructure improvement, look for revenue sharing grants, call a town hall meeting or two to explain your reasons for a simple low interest bond bank issuance, go to referendum for the loan, and in these low interest times you might come out quite nicely and with the support you want.
former Ashcroft Mayor of the 90’s