In our Feb. 22 edition, The Merritt Herald published an article titled “Council weighs tax hike or reserve use amid crisis”. We regret to inform our readers that errors were made in the reporting of this article, and we apologize for any confusion or misunderstanding that may have resulted.

Upon further review, it has become clear that certain facts presented in the article were inaccurate. We wish to set the record straight and provide the correct information to our readers.

The following corrections have been made:

– “City of Merritt faced with dilemma of raising taxes on residents or drawing from federal and provincial reserves.”

The reserves mentioned by the City of Merritt during council are money saved by the City, not from federal and provincial fundings or reserves.

– “In the more recent meeting, councillors discussed how this tax increase would be executed.”

– “The follow-up to a similar discussion from a meeting on Jan. 23 earlier this year, council members voted 4-2 in favour of raising taxes to offset operating costs.”

– “Councillors decided it would be better for the town to gradually increase tax by eight per cent annually over a three-year period rather than immediately raising taxes by 25 per cent.”

In an interview with the Herald, City of Merritt Director of Finance Kevin Natkinniemi said that up until today (Feb. 29), council hasn’t finalized their decision on taxes. He added that there will be a financial planning bylaw, which covers five years and will likely be presented to council in March.

“There’s two bylaws related to taxation that have not been presented to council yet. These are fees and charges for services that the city provides. So that’s where a schedule has been laid out for several years, to provide a forward looking view to residents as to what the costs will be for them for the service that’s provided.”

Not all things were raised by the 25 per cent. Some of the fees and charges are going up 25 per cent for water and sewer utilities, therefore those aren’t taxes, but utility bills. Natkinniemi also said there will be some proration of old rates and new rates.

“Twenty five per cent was for the first year of that schedule, and I believe it was five per cent for the other two years for water and sewer. For something like garbage, it was 10 per cent, right? So not everything was done at 25 per cent. Each fee was looked at individually to look at, you know, what’s the cost of that service, what’s the correct level of subsidization.”

We recognize the importance of accuracy and transparency in our reporting, and we are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

The Herald recognizes an ethical responsibility to promptly correct all factual errors, large or small. We encourage you to contact us if you think you see a mistake. Messages about news coverage, comments about the opinion section can be sent to [email protected] and [email protected]

Sincerely, Merritt Herald