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CITYOFMERRITT

Whenever the topic of the budget comes up at the municipal level, the public gravitates to one particular figure, taxes.

While Council is nowhere near deciding on a tax rate ahead of 2020, City Staff along with Councillors are attempting to dispel the narrative that taxes in Merritt are exorbitantly high.

Director of Corporate Services Sean Smith addressed the scenario of a relocated family.

“A $500,000 home in Merritt is nearly double the average home price, which means you’re going to be paying nearly double the average taxes,” began Smith. “Most people look at this and say I sold a home for 800, bought a home for 500 I should be paying less taxes than I did previously. It’s just a misunderstanding of the tax system which is really based on the average price of a home in a community.”

Mayor Linda Brown mentioned how it’s hard to compare city tax rates because they all offer different services to their residents.

“We can’t forget the Merritt has quite a few amenities that other small communities don’t have. We have the swimming pool, we have the arena, we have a recreation department that is quite astounding for the size of Merritt,” said Coun. Kurt Christopherson. “People in Merritt have quite a few advantages that other small towns have, and they don’t come cheap.”

Director of Finance Sheila Thiessen did say that Merritt has not raised the tax rate in several years, but the amount of taxes residents pay has changed because of the changes in BC property assessments.

 

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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Lumber

Throughout the campaign, MP Dan Albas would routinely speak about the struggling BC forestry industry and as he prepares to return to the House of Commons it remains his focus.

“We need to address competitiveness and make sure there is a bright future for forestry in British Columbia. Right now, the Federal Government isn’t focused on that and it’s something I’d like to make front and centre in this new parliament,” said Albas.

Albas mentioned needing to bring attention to the struggles in the interior to people across the nation.

“It seems when people out east factor in the number of jobs that we have seen lost in BC and particularly in the interior, it would make their head spin,” said Albas. “It’s very simple for them to understand that in Oakville Ford is laying off workers there and it’s front-page news. But oftentimes when we have large closures like Tolko, they don’t hear about that.”

For Albas one of the issues he’s seeing is competitiveness.

“We have companies that are investing in places like Louisiana and Mississippi, but not in BC. They’re leaving forestry in BC but not leaving forestry. They’re expanding their operations,” said Albas.

Albas expects Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to name his cabinet around November 20, and have MPs called back to Ottawa sometime in December.

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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rcmp 1

A 27-year-old Merritt resident has been charged on numerous counts after being arrested twice this month.

“On October 10, Merritt RCMP members dealt with multiple theft files involving a 27-year-old resident of Merritt. In one case the complainant had also been shoved and Crown charged the suspect with assault in addition to the theft charges. The subject appeared in court and was released on conditions and a curfew at a residence in Penticton,” said Staff Sgt. Lorne Wood.

That, however, was not the end of the story.

“Checks at this residence proved that it did not exist, and arrest warrants were obtained for the suspect who was later located and re-arrested on October 24th, in Merritt for theft and assault charges,” added Wood.

Once the man was placed in the cells, he took steps to cover the cameras in the cell.

“When an officer entered the cell to attend to the issue to find the prisoner had defecated in his cell and then assaulted the attending officer,” said Wood.

In addition to the warrants, the suspect is facing charges of assaulting a peace officer and mischief to property.


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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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pumpkin

Halloween has finally arrived and kids throughout the City will be out in force this evening to collect their loot.

Before the kids head out to fill their pillowcases, Marlene Jones, the Community Policing Coordinator stopped by Q101 to discuss some Halloween safety tips, starting with the use of masks.

“The way people are thinking now is that maybe makeup is a better choice than a mask, and if you are wearing a mask, one with a larger eye hole so you can watch and see what’s going on around you,” said Jones.

Jones also hit on travelling in a bigger group, maybe taking an older sibling, and having an emergency phone number to call if they run into any problems.

“We recommend a light or reflective costume, but if you can’t do that, a flashlight and several people in a group with flashlights, you’re going to be seen after dark,” added Jones.

A few final tips were to not wear costumes that could be a tripping hazard by hanging down by your ankles, and for parents to check the candy at the end of the evening.

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On Twitter: @Q101Merritt

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bc legislature

A lot of noise has been made this week by the BC Liberals about some NDP legislation that they believe is hindering farmers and ranchers.

Earlier in the week, a group of farmers went to the legislature in Victoria in protest of Bill 15 and 52.

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart joined Q101 to discuss the issues her party is hearing from the farmers and the response from the Government.

“We had somebody from our riding talking about what it means when government interferes and tells people where they can build, what they can build and how offensive it is when these are people who have farmed the land or ranched the land for a good long time,” said Tegart.

“We had people from all over the province here talking about the impact of this government's decisions on their ability to have sustainable ranching and farming on their property,” added Tegart.

She mentioned that question period this week has primarily been taken up by those conversations.

Along with building, the legislation also prevents some landowners from operating a secondary business.

“We’re hearing stories from people who have opened small cafes, small restaurants, cooking food from the farm to the table and getting shut down because that’s not an allowable use,” said Tegart.

 

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