By Greg Amos

Pioneer Staff

As in past years, the district of Invermere is getting a head start on its 2013 budget, which contemplates $7.2 million in operational spending and $2.5 million on capital project spending.

We typically start the budget process in June, in order to take advantage of our short construction season, explained chief administrative officer Chris Prosser. The early start on the 2013 to 2017 financial plan will allow the district to get construction tenders ready for January, making it possible to complete capital projects outside the peak tourism months of July and August.

Chief among the $2,558,364 in capital projects slated for next year is a $600,000 bill to improve a pressurized water pipe on 17th Street. The district is looking at spending $300,000 on building a water spray park at Kinsmen Beach, $300,000 on renovating lift station #1, $210,000 on a power generator for a water reservoir, and $200,000 for geo-textile bags to be used in desludging the sewage treatment plant.

Among other interesting capital improvements are planned $120,000 for bridge upgrades and repair on Laurier Street, and $60,000 for an ultraviolet disinfection system to be used on water from the Paddy Ryan Lakes.

Cenotaph Park is slated for a $40,000 upgrade (thanks in part to a Veterans Affairs grant), and $31,000 is earmarked for electric car charging stations (with $23,000 coming from a provincial grant).

So far, the plan contemplates an overall tax increase of two per cent. That involves a small tax shift from commercial to residential sectors, one thats expected to cost $31 more for the average homeowner, and $17 more for a typical business in Invermere. The BC Assessment roll thats current to October 31 shows the average single family dwelling in Invermere has an assessed value of $404,000.

The district has until mid-May 2013 to approve its tax rates bylaw under the Local Government Act, which also prohibits a local government from budgeting a deficit, unlike the provincial and federal levels of government.

Its always seemed weird that you could go half a year without having a budget in place, said Coun. Greg Anderson at the districts October 9th council meeting.

The $7,239,793 operating budget is a slight increase from the districts usual $6 to $7 million range, said Prosser, and includes expenditures of $1,455,818 for transportation services, $1,292,335 for general government services, $927,710 for water systems, and $912,076 for sewer systems.

The local government also plans to spend $753,730 on Protective Services, $741,680 on community development services, and $673,500 on parks, recreation and cultural services.

While most B.C. communities have a tax base balanced between residential, business, industry and other assessment classes, a lack of major industry means 99 per cent of Invermeres tax base comes from the value of homes and businesses, explained the districts director of finance, Karen Cote. The residential property class alone makes up 90.6 per cent of Invermeres assessment base.

The first public consultation session will take place at the district office on November 13th, prior to the districts 7 p.m. council meeting. Online surveys are also available at , and have proven to be the most popular form of feedback in past years, said Prosser.

Hard copies of the survey can be picked up at the district office and must be submitted by November 16th.