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Vote passes on budget as first tax hit sinks in

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

The final vote on the City’s 2011 budget came down Wednesday afternoon and the two per cent property tax rate hike was officially approved and written into bylaw by City council.

Not much deliberation was necessary for council to put the final wraps on the two-month long budget process since the tough decisions and number crunching had already been done.

As a result of the vote, the adoption of the Financial Plan Bylaw 3191 for the 2011 fiscal year means the average homeowner in Nelson will pay about $31 per year for the average house. The average assessed home prince in Nelson for 2010 was $332,993.

Adding in a water rate hike (after discount) of seven per cent, or $35 per year, and a sewer rate hike of nine per cent, or $25 per year, the homeowner of the average assessed home in Nelson will be paying $91 more — jumping from $2,145 to $2,236.

The tax rate hike reflects only municipal taxes before the new homeowner grant (expected to be $200 this year) and the other taxation bodies draw their portion from taxpayers, including the regional district, the health board and the school board.

Although City staff delivered a status quo budget, they had to account for a $743,000 shortfall due to increasing labour costs — contractual labour increases of $300,000 or 4.6 per cent, a resolution of a labour agreement worth $160,000 or 2.5 per cent — a transit revenue decrease of $120,000, or 1.8 per cent, and other cost increases of 1.7 per cent.

The $83,750 budget surplus as presented at the public open house on the budget two weeks ago was reduced as council asked for the re-inclusion of non domestic animal control ($15,000), as well as bylaw and policy adjudication ($20,000).

The two per cent property tax increase will add around $130,000 to the budget. Combined with the $48,750 surplus, around $175,000 of that will be transferred to the water licence and building reserve funds. That money is used for capital projects.