FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The City of Fort St. John is inviting residents to the council chambers to discuss the 2022 draft capital and operating budgets.

Let’s Talk 2022 Budget! will begin at 5 p.m. on February 28th and display panels about the budget available for residents to view. Council and city staff will also be there to discuss the budget.

Following the drop-in, Chief Financial Officer David Joy will give a budget presentation during a public meeting, where residents will have the chance to make comments or ask questions.

Anyone looking to speak during the meeting will be required to sign in.

The city says masks must be worn inside city hall as per the provincial health orders, but proof of vaccinations is not required to attend a council meeting.

Council was presented the first draft of the budget last month.

According to a report by Joy, the administration faced several challenges with the 2022 operating budget.

These include pulling $586,000 from reserves to balance the 2021 budget, additional staffing coming in at $393,000, salary and wage grid increases totalling $444,000, lower return on investments, and “own source revenue” not fully recovering from the pandemic.

This year, the rise in property assessments means the city plans on collecting more tax revenue while keeping the tax rate “relatively flat.”

Based on an average residential property of $323,796, the additional tax revenue generated would be almost $103 per property, according to the January 24th report to council.

The proposed residential tax rate for 2022 is 5.1557 per cent, down from 5.1797 per cent last year.