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Nelsonites catch break and get taxes lowered by RDCK

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

A municipal finance twist that could have had many regional district taxpayers paying more this year instead will see a drop or no change in their taxation levels for 2011.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board of directors delivered a bit of good news on Thursday as they nailed down the lid on their 2011-2012 financial plan, delivering a budget that only saw a 2.1 per cent increase — less than the 2.4 per cent consumer price index (inflation) for BC.

That tax increase does not affect Nelsonites, however, as they will be paying $9.19 less on their tax bill this year — or around $392.95 — based on an average home assessment for 2011 at $271,000.

RDCK chief financial officer Grant Roeland delivered a further bit of good news later in the Central Kootenay Regional Hospital District board meeting after the budget had been passed, stating that four debts have been retired by the board.

At the end of a debenture’s life, Roeland explained, the provincial Municipal Finance Authority pays out interest on the money a municipality paid into a debt, sort of a bonus arrangement.

That meant the 2011 tax requisition was a refund of $174,139, instead of the $395,918 the board collected in taxes last year. A further tax reduction of around $14 will be taken off the bill for Nelsonites and other citizens of the RDCK.

In Nelson, the biggest reduction in costs came from general administration, where Nelson’s requisition for 2011 dropped from $343,799 to $263,172.

That decrease was offset by new services — GIS ($43,621) and Nelson Search and Rescue ($17,007) — and an increase to Central Waste’s refuse disposal of $21,000 to $798,096.

The GIS service used to be in general administration, but was broken out and only those areas and municipalities that wanted it could opt in as a separate service.

Around $23,000 was added to the tax requested for the operation of the Nelson and District Community Complex, making it a total of $1.63 million.

The new budget saw 10 new services join the roster of 140 for the RDCK this year — including Nelson Search and Rescue and library services to southern Area H and Area F.

“All in all, we have a lot of services ... and in this budget, I assure you, it is the best bang for the buck,” said RDCK chair John Kettle. “It is a very small increase and not even measurable to the CPI (consumer price index).”

He said for people to keep in mind the regional district does offer full transparency in the public process on the budget at any time with the seven open houses they held around the region this month.

Kettle urged people to participate in the process next year, and if they didn’t like it, to change the government officials.

RDCK staff will also have to increase to handle the extra services, with 1.4 administrative positions to be added this year.