May 14, 2014 - 1:38 PM
KAMLOOPS - McArthur Island residents won't need to travel to City Hall this year to pay taxes after a pilot project for a local payment site was approved.
Staff asked council to approve the project allowing for a payment processing site at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre for the 2014 property tax season. Part of the reason for the request is the road work being done adjacent to City Hall, expected to be complete in July, could lead to even more congestion during tax time.
Mayor Peter Milobar noted many people choose to pay in person because they feel more secure in getting a stamp from the city saying it has been paid on time.
"If we vote this down make sure councillors on opposing side are here every day at tax time and they can greet agitated people and tell them they should’ve paid online," Milobar said in defence of the motion. "I don’t want staff to deal with the brunt of that."
Approximately 9,000 residents are expected to make payments in person between June 2-July 2 and staff have been looking for an alternative location. The accessibility, availability and functionality of McArthur Island pegged that location as the ideal alternative.
Staff feel the extra location will lead to improved customer service, especially given its North Shore location. It's easily accessible by walking, transit or bicycle and offers free parking for those wishing to drive.
Staff expect the pilot site to cost about $45,000 to set up, including contractor costs, office setup, security and armoured car services. It can be funded through the current operating budget for the Finance Department.
Some council members were concerned over the price tag and felt the money would be better utilized to promote alternative ways of paying.
"The problem isn’t the construction it’s the 9000 people (who pay in person)," Coun. Ken Christian said, a sentiment most agreed with in prinicpal.
In the end only councillors Tina Lange and Donovan Cavers voted against the pilot project.
If the project proves successful staff may bring it forward as an additional request for the 2015 budget.
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