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COVID-19 effects prompt increase to regional district taxation

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 27th, 2022

There will be a significant increase to regional district taxation ask this year with a nearly seven per cent increase expected, according to the recent budget.

Total taxation across the regional district will rise to $35.1 million, up from $32.9 million, as the board of directors crafted and drafted its financial plan on March 17 in face of a 21 per cent average increase in property value assessments across the regional district.

Overall, property assessments across the regional district have risen by 21.92 per cent, with the village of Slocan having the greatest rise at 55.83 per cent in assessments.

The largest increase in the electoral areas was Area K (The Arrow Lakes) at 29.77 per cent. Nelson had a 23.67 per cent increase in assessments, from $315,987,940 to $390,776,762.

The assessment increases do not necessarily equate to corresponding increases in taxation, but there will be a rise to cover costs of the impositions of the pandemic. 

“COVID-19 continued to impact the RDCK through 2021 and will continue into 2022 as restrictions are lifted, in particular in recreation which has seen reduced user fee revenue over the past two years due to closures,” said Heather Smith, RDCK manager of Finance.

“Cost pressures related to inflation and supply chain as well as contracted services are influencing budgetary costs.”

Several factors have contributed to the increase, including the consumer price index (CPI) increase on staff salaries and director’s stipends for 2022 of 1.2 per cent, along with a five per cent CPI increase from December 2020 to December 2021.

In the staff report to the board, the COVID-19 creation of “uncertainty for recreation, particularly with reopening” was another increase factor, along with the composting facility completion and the general election in October, with two assent voting opportunities and a number of alternative approval processes.

In a Feb. 18 board meeting RDCK chief financial officer Stuart Horn said the HB Mines clean-up project was currently 80 per cent completed, with completion anticipated this year, and “taxation pressures for some of the RDCK services.”

General administration income (budget) and expenses down to $5.9 million from $7.3 million

Rural administration revenue and expenses up to $2.6 million from $2.4 million, while the GIS service expenses was up to $564,155 from $402,987.

Horn indicated geospatial information technology eliminated the deficit in 2021 and there will be a reduction of 8.5 per cent in taxation.

“The new fees and charges model is aiding the service and an amount in the budget will be set aside for data/mapping work,” he said in his report.

The Building Inspection service requisition rises from $1.747 million to $1.881 million, with Planning and Land Use also rising from $884,324 to $933,105 million.

Horn said there would be a 33.4 per cent increase in taxation for Building Inspection.

“It was another record year in 2021 for user fees,” he said in his report to the board. “Although user fee income is high, the services has been consistently supported by surpluses and the ability to continue to do so is diminishing.”

There was a 16.4 per cent increase in the general administration service, including an 11.8 per cent increase in taxation to the rural administration service — which houses rural director expenses, fire services overhead and bylaw services.

 Spreading the burden

Although Nelsonites pay the largest total tax requisition ($4.693 million) for municipalities and electoral areas in the regional district, the calculated residential tax rate per city household (and per $1,000 of assessed value) is quite low at 1.201.

In fact, the city’s residential rate has dropped over the last three years, from 1.420 in 2021 and 1.389 in 2020, while total assessment has climbed from $303.7 million in 2020 and $315.9 in 2021 to $390.8 million in 2022.

A sizable portion of the tax requisition the city forks over goes to Nelson and District Community facilities, around $2.081 million, and to refuse disposal (Central subregion) at $1.53 million.

In all, the city takes part in nine services from the regional district, including general administration, transit, regional parks, emergency planning, economic development commission and the GIS service. The cost to deliver those services could rise by 4.64 per cent in 2022 ($207.958).

By comparison, the City of Castlegar hands over $2.663 million for a calculated residential tax rate of 1.074 per $1,000 of assessment for seven services, while the Town of Creston is $2.929 million with a calculated residential tax rate of 2.458 per $1,000 of assessment for 15 services.

Categories: General


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