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City puts stamp on budget in special meeting

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 12th, 2017

The bite isn’t as big as the bark when it comes to overall taxation in the city as what sounded initially like a large tax rate increase for Nelsonites this year is, in actuality, barely a nudge over the cost of inflation.

For the average residential home in Nelson ($353,886), the municipal property taxes for 2017 are estimated to be $1,607. 

Although the 2017-2021 Five-Year Financial Plan incorporates an average municipal tax increase of 6.35 per cent for all property classes, homeowners will only be paying around $68 more overall for the year, said chief financial officer Colin McClure in his report to council last week in a special meeting.

“It is important to note … that due to the work on the (recreation) commission by city representatives, and the minimal change of other tax rates coupled with the new construction that came online in 2017, that the overall tax increase is only 2.25 per cent,” he noted.

For the average home property taxes will be around $3,078 for this year, not including water, sewer and Nelson Hydro rate changes.

On Friday city council passed the Five-Year Financial Plan and the Tax Rates Bylaw — as required by law before May 15 — and there was no debate in chambers at this late stage of crafting of the city’s financial plan, after months of deliberation and number crunching had already taken place to get to this point.

Tax Rates Bylaw is required in order to collect the appropriate funds to finance the items outlined in the financial plan.

“The Tax Rates Bylaw supports all of the initiatives in the city’s Five-Year Financial Plan and, therefore, supports all of the city’s corporate objectives,” said McClure.

“This tax rate bylaw provides the city with the authority to assess and collect the required tax funding.”

McClure explained that the city takes a “fixed share approach” to tax rates between classes, meaning the share of the total tax levy collected from each property class remains relatively constant over the years.

This approach is subject to adjustments arising from non-market (new construction) change in the B.C. Assessment role, he added, or council decides to adjust the share for each class. 

In 2017, with the adjustments made for new construction, 73 per cent of property tax will be contributed by residential taxpayers and 25.4 per cent from the commercial sector, McClure said.

The city’s tax rate bylaw sets tax rates for municipal (City of Nelson), Regional District of Central Kootenay and regional hospital levies. Other levies collected through the municipal tax notice include those for the School Authority, B.C. Assessment and the Municipal Finance Authority. 

The financial plan for 2017 includes tax revenue of $8,647,446 for general municipal purposes with an estimated additional $450,000 in general tax revenue being provided by boundary expansion properties. 

This year City of Nelson taxes are due on July 4. The city charges a 10 per cent penalty on taxes paid after this date. 

City establishes policy for campground

A newly refurbished campground begets a brand new campground policy.

City staff have recommended that a policy be put in place to ensure the Nelson Tourist Campground “is run efficiently and that service levels remain high,” in the wake of a renovation of much of the city’s campground last year.

City council passed a motion last week approving the creation of a policy, providing a framework for city staff to regulate the campground and create consistency in its operation. Prior to this there was no existing campground policy. 

Revenue generated by the campground — fees in 2016 totaled $108,000 — supports the Nelson and District Youth Centre. 

“This sustainable business model continues to provide opportunities for employment to youth and maintains a level of financial stability to the Youth Centre,” read a city staff report.

The campground is situated in an ideal location just outside of the city’s downtown, and is close to playing fields, green spaces, children’s playgrounds, Kootenay Lake and is a short walk to shops, restaurants and services of the downtown.

The campground is typically at capacity during the high season, July through September. 

General regulations:

  • • Nelson City Campground operates from May 1st through October 15th (Dates may be subject to weather conditions);
  • • There is a maximum stay of 14 days. Longer stays may be allowed, on a day-to-day basis only, if vacancies exist;
  • • Quiet time is 10:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. All visitors must leave the campground by 10:30 p.m.;
  • • Campfires are not permitted. Open burning is not permitted, by bylaw, within the City of Nelson;
  • • All dogs must be kept on a leash in the campground. Pet owners are responsible for collecting and disposing of waste from their animals; and
  • • Alcohol may be consumed within a campsite only. 

Source: City of Nelson

The issue of keeping the campground open all year round — which was raised in council last fall by members of the community — was not discussed in the policy.

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