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City of Merritt to look at increasing parcel tax, to offset Water Fund shortfall.

Director of Finance Sheila Thiessen says the city has enough in reserves to cover the $659,343 in capital projects needing to be completed in 2018, but looking forward to 2019 and beyond, there will be some challenges to meeting the annual $540,000 in funding for capital replacement.

One way to make up the difference is by increasing the parcel tax, which could be offset by the Sewer Fund.

"$100 is currently raising $435,000 a year, so that leaves us short. So, raising it $75 to $100 would be appropriate. But, then we could realistically cover it through the Sewer Fund. It's just part of the picture for Mayor and Council to look at, and see whether they are interested. They might not be this year, but I'm putting it out there for them to consider."

Thiessen says another way to make up the difference would be to increase user fees.


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City of Merritt falling behind when it comes to replacing fire hydrants.
The city is currently replacing five a year, at a cost of roughly $25,000.
With 320 located in the city, CAO Shawn Boven stated during budget deliberations earlier this month that efforts, and funding should be doubled.
"At the rate we are currently going, we are basically saying hydrants last 160-years, but that is not true, they last about half of that time. so, technically, although we would be further behind in our infrastructure deficit, we should double it."
Boven says the plan is to look at the city's 20-year asset management plan, to see if changes regarding fire hydrant replacement can be made.
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Sidewalk being considered to prevent further erosion of the community gardens in Merritt.
Storm water run-off from Reid Ave continues to cause issues at the endowment lands adjacent to the Nicola Valley Hospital and Health Centre.
CAO Shawn Boven says the city wants to construct a sidewalk on the east side of the street to limit the impact.
"This would continue the sidewalk where it currently ends on the south-side of Reid Ave, then wrap around to Grimmett St. It would be kind of a two-fold project. We would get a sidewalk there, and it would keep water from entering the community gardens."
$15,000 has been included in the 2018 budget to construct the sidewalk.
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Thawing of Coldwater and Nicola Rivers not creating problems within the City of Merritt this winter.
Emergency services coordinator Sky McKeown says Mother Nature is currently cooperating, warming up during the day, but freezing again at night, which is ideal.
"So far so good. We are getting good water movement, and the ice is dropping into the water like we'd hope. There is some areas where the ice is a little thicker on the Coldwater River than years past, but it's up on the banks now, so I don't foresee it leading to problems."
Other than some localized flooding from the Coldwater River near the Moon Shadows RV Park last month, McKeown says there has been no other issues.
Those living near the Coldwater and Nicola Rivers are asked to report any potentially damaging flows or obstructions directly to the City of Merritt.
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New Chief of the Shackan Indian Band.
The official results have not been made public, but Jordan Joe was declared the band's next Chief, following Saturday's vote.
Alongside Councillors Joan Seymour and Mary Angus, Joe hopes the band can continue to build relationships with other bands in the area, and work together towards common goals.
"It's important we expand our horizons, not only for our band, but also the community, and try to get it back to they way it used to be, as one nation. I worked in economic development for five-years, with all the five bands, and see the need to get it back to where it used to be."
Joe takes over for long time Grand Chief, Percy Joe, who after more than 45-years has stepped aside.
The Shackan Indian Band is the smallest in the Nicola Valley, with roughly 135 members, 110 of which were eligable to vote.
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