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City of Merritt in position to keep property taxes the same as 2017.
Despite Mayor and Council leaving basically all the recommendations from staff in the 2018 budget, director of Finance Sheila Thiessen says it is still possible residents won't see an increase to their property tax this year.
Revenues cover all but $270,000 of the capital projects included, but she says surplus, or reserves for future expenditures could be used to make up the difference, as opposed to raising taxes.
"We are in pretty good shape. Staff put together a list of things thverat need to be done, so there is not a lot to be cut from it. And, council saw that."
Thiessen will present all the options at next week's regular meeting, at which Mayor and Council are expected to set the tax rates for 2018.
In 2017, the property tax rate increased by 1.5%.
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Special officer appointed to improve relations between the Highland Valley Copper Mine and the United Steelworkers Union.
USW Western Regional Director Steve Hunt confirms their request was met by the BC Labour Relations Board, and the move is expected to help solve several issues, including a number surrounding the safety of workers.
"When you have a breakdown over health and safety, to me, it's indicative of a total break down between the parties. I believe, for one, we should never argue over health and safety at a work place like Highland Valley."
Hunt says there is a lack of trust between the two sides, and is hopeful the special officer can help bridge the divide.
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Winter not quite over for area mountain passes.

Environment Canada issuing a special weather statement this morning.

Forecaster Gregg Pierce warning travellers there is potential for snow on both the Coquihalla and Okanagan Connector starting tomorrow afternoon, through the evening.

"It's going to rain tonight, then by late afternoon the snow level will drop from around 1,500m, to as low 800m. So, there is the potential for snow, which is not uncommon for this time of year."

Pierce is expecting between 10 and 15cm of snow to fall.


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Six months in, the First Nations Court is working as advertised in Merritt.
Kika Mowry is one of ten local elders, trained in the court system, that have presided over roughly 50 cases since the Nicola Valley Indigenous Court began sitting back in October.
She believes the restorative approach to justice is proving effective.
"It works with Elders, because its people in the community. The community is very much pulling together to assist those in conflict with the law, to help them start to head down the right path. We know who they are. We know their families, and we know their strength and weaknesses."
The Nicola Valley Indigenous Court is one of five First Nations Courts in the province, with others operating in New Westminster, Duncan, Kamloops and North Vancouver.
It sits the third Wednesday of every month at the Merritt Court House.
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Aspen Planers threatening relocation if the cost of doing business in the City of Merritt continues to rise.

Woodlands manager Jerry Canuel making it clear to Mayor and Council last night during budget deliberations the sawmill cannot afford another tax increase, believing they are already paying their fair share.

"Aspen pays approximately $900,000 annually in property taxes. That's about 35% of the entire business taxes paid in Merritt. Our major industry tax rates are roughly nine times, or 900% higher, than the rates paid by residential tax payers. These rates are also three to five times higher than the industrial tax rates in many other interior communities."

Canual warns if the city continues to increase the cost to operate in it, the company will need to consider moving its operations elsewhere.

"An unfair tax burden often leads to industry consolidation, and relocation to business-friendly climates. One need not look very far to see the most recent examples of Tolko here in Merritt, and Lafarge in Kamloops."

Aspen Planers has operated in Merritt since 1959.

The sawmill directly employs over 200 people, and indirectly as many as 400.


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