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City property tax increase higher than 3.5 per cent: Butler

Coun. Julia Butler said she would prefer to see the increase calculated based on expenses for the year.

Although final reading for the Financial Plan Bylaw passed, one city councillor says the 3.5 per cent tax increase contained in the budget is higher than what has been cited.

Coun. Julia Butler said the tax rate the city will be assessing actually increases by five per cent, since it’s a 3.5 per cent increase in the overall revenue collected by the city, meaning people are paying more than 3.5 per cent to make up the municipal demand for revenue.

“I’m still not quite comfortable with how the costs are,” she said. “I would prefer us to do a 3.5 per cent increase on the tax rate rather than the revenue, and I would prefer to see it calculated based on our expenses for the year.”

Butler was the only councillor that voted against accepting the financial bylaw when it was adopted on Monday in city council’s regular meeting.

Council approved an increase of 3.5 per cent — $125,062 — towards infrastructure renewal and replacement over and above the additional revenues resulting from B.C. Assessment increases, for total property tax revenues of $3,698,273. 

But because of the increased assessments the city has had from B.C. Assessment a lot of the property values have gone up in the city, and the actual increase the city is realizing already in taxes is 4.08 per cent, meaning a total taxation increase of $163,000.

Review and analysis of the 2017 completed assessment roll indicates that the assessed value of residential properties in Grand Forks has increased an average of 4.08 per cent due to market changes, plus a further approximately three per cent overall as a result of the desktop review process recently conducted by B.C. Assessment, read a city staff report to council.

The cost impacts on a residence with a 2016 assessed value of $200,000 — and with an assessment increase of 3.5 per cent — with the city’s increase are $79.61, bumping the property tax payment over $1,000 to $1,041.09.

There was one minor change which had been made to the operating budget since its introduction on March 13. An additional expense of $7,671 has been included for the city’s contribution to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary to fund a transit shortfall.

City revenue sources for the coming budget are cited as coming from six areas, with the largest being fees and charges (34.6 per cent) comprising $7,512,874 of the total of $21,738,663.

Other sources (25 per cent, $5,435,392) were second while property value taxes were third at 17.6 per cent ($3,816,587).

Reserve funding (15.6 per cent, $3,383,800), proceeds from borrowing (6.6 per cent, $1,428,784) and parcel taxes (0.7 per cent, $161,226) rounded out the list.