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No news is good news as city freezes municipal tax rate for 2019

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 15th, 2019

A near record increase in property assessments for Nelson won’t be joined by a near record rise in municipal property taxes.

In fact, the city was able to rein in spending and taxation on the municipal front and has instead dealt out the cards for a no increase in the City of Nelson tax rate for 2019. 

This means, for the average residential home in Nelson ($455, 786), the municipal property taxes for 2019 are estimated to be $1,654 (or $138 per month). However, the average single family dwelling assessment from BC Assessment for Nelson rose over $62,000 from $393,635 in 2018.

The status quo was aided and abetted by a city administration that gained some traction in negotiations relating to the tax requisition from the Regional District of Central Kootenay on city property owners.

“In working with our partners in the RDCK regional park service a decision was approved to fund additional parks in the different participant’s areas,” noted chief financial officer Colin McClure in his report to council.

This work turned into $365,000 being added to the regional parks budget for 2019, with $350,000 of that amount to be granted to the city to assist in the funding of operations of Lakeside Park. 

“This increase in funding to the city, through taxation at the regional parks service, eliminated the need for the city to increase taxes in 2019,” McClure explained.

The service agreed on providing $350,000 to the City of Nelson to assist in the operating costs of the entire Lakeside Park, walking path and playing fields. 

“As the city has added other parks over the past few years this additional funding assisted in covering the additional costs and resulted in the city not needing to add a tax increase in 2019 for the operating budget as the taxation was collected through the regional parks service and then provided to the city from the same taxpayer,” McClure said in his report.

Overall there was a 14.89 per cent increase in the residential assessment values for 2019. In addition, the commercial assessments went up 5.26 per cent as compared to 2018. 

In keeping with council’s objective to maintain the same tax rate ratios as previous years, staff were directed to prepare the 2019-2023 financial plan and 2019 tax rate bylaw using the fixed share approach (keeping the share of the tax levy collected from each property class constant except where changes are due to non-market changes such as growth), said McClure.

The result is the same 73 per cent and 25 per cent residential and commercial ratio of the total municipal tax burden, he said.

More for less, more or less

The city will also be doing more for less after it agreed to fund several new initiatives out of reserves. A strategic priority working session in early April unearthed several new budget requests for projects the new city council deemed necessary.

As a result, council agreed to add funding, mostly from reserves, to support active transportation, an emergency management planner, increased communications, the hiring of a consultant to investigate innovative hydro producing projects and funds to allow for the engagement of an environmental consultant to deal with contamination issues involving city-owned property.

In addition, the city was successful in its application to the FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) for a $125,000 grant over two years to fund the hiring of a climate change coordinator.

Now the bad news …

Despite no increase in property taxes for 2019 there will be rate increases elsewhere.

This year there will be rate increases for water, sewer and Nelson Hydro which have been previously approved by council. 

As well, the regional district tax requisition will rise by 13.4 per cent, from $543 to $616, the West Kootenay Hospital request goes up 8.6 per cent ($109 to $118) and the school tax requisition jumps 8.2 per cent, a $73 increase from $857.

This adds up to a 6.5 per cent increase to overall taxes, around $157 for the average Nelson household, going from $2,409 in 2018 (after $770 basic homeowner grant) to $2,566.

Municipal and RDCK taxes make up 70 per cent of the total taxes collected by the city, with school taxes making up 26 per cent of the remaining 30 per cent. 

“The school taxes are set by the province and have increased significantly for Nelson residential owners in 2019,” said McClure in his report to council.

“The main cause of the increase relates to a tax shift as a result of the substantial 15 per cent average increase in City of Nelson residential assessed values, which outpaced the increase in the assessed values of the other communities that are in the School District 8 district.”

— Source: City of Nelson

The bill is due …

This year Nelsonites are required to pay City of Nelson taxes by the end of the business day on July 2, 2019. 

The City of Nelson charges a 10 per cent penalty on taxes paid after this date. 


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