THE COVERED WAGON at the entrance of Historic Hat Creek Ranch.

The annual challenge of taxes

No one wants to raise taxes, so politicians let it go year after year until raising them an alarming amount is no longer an option.

Ashcroft utility users – seniors in particular – are facing a big tax hit next year. Water rates will double by 2020 and sewer rates will be not far behind.

On top of that, Council is proposing the elimination of the 25 per cent seniors discount that Ashcroft seniors have enjoyed for 40 or more years.

That’s a scary thought for seniors who want to stay in their homes.

As a property owner in Cache Creek, where utility rates are already half of what they are in Ashcroft, I imagine how I would feel if the home owner’s grant was suddenly gone. That’s a huge chunk of change to suddenly cough up.

Ashcroft Council is stuck between that rock and the hard place. The Village needs money to keep operating, but there’s no one to get it from.

Cache Creek has had the luxury of relying on revenue from the landfill for over 20 years to keep the Village going and to keep taxes low. I daresay, if the landfill had never existed, Cache Creek would be in the same position as Ashcroft.

But because it does exist, Cache Creek Council has been able to stash away a great deal of the revenue that it’s received over the years to bolster infrastructure and ease the financial void left by the landfill’s eventual closing. In addition, every year there is a slight increase in taxes and utilities.

Of course, unexpected floods can take care of a solid budget in quick time.

Part of Ashcroft Council’s reasoning for eliminating the senior’s discount is that young families are also in need of financial relief.

There is a difference, however. Young families can still find more work – add on jobs to provide more income. Seniors are on a fixed income and their days of labour are usually over, whether they like it or not.

However, half of the utility payments come from seniors, which means the Village is subsidizing a large part of them.

Unless Ashcroft suddenly attracts a stinky, noisy, ugly industry to town (that people don’t object to), the Village is going to be caught between raising taxes or closing facilities – and losing residents.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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