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Building boom in rural areas causes taxation bump in Nelson

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
March 9th, 2023

A building boom in the rural areas of the regional district is driving up taxes, with a spill-over effect into Nelson, the city’s regional district board representative says.

Keith Page said the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s (RDCK) budget process is underway and it is already predicting a possible 4.83 per cent rise in the tax requisition from Nelsonites.

For an average single family dwelling ($641,000), a five per cent rise in taxes would equate to approximately $92 extra per year ($1,922).

Page told city council in a special council meeting March 3 that the increase in taxes has been largely driven by shifts in property taxes in other areas of the regional district — with “huge growth in electoral areas I, E and F.

The growth was translated into an increase in residential construction, in turn reflected in a regional district request for a staffing increase of three new building inspectors, as well as other new positions.

“We have all heard of the capacity issues with all of that growth that is going on in the regional district,” Page said, “with getting development permits and (trying to do) all of the work through their building department through in a tidy fashion.”

Page said the regional district has kicked off a review of their development fees in order to correlate the demand for building permits and inspections with the rates it is charging.

“(T)he people who are inducing that workload should be the ones who are carrying it with increased fees,” said Page, “because those fees are not reflective of the work being done.”

In a special meeting of the board of directors at the RDCK boardroom on Friday, Feb. 17, the newest version of the financial plan was brought to light, with the projection of an 11 to 12 per cent average increase in taxes for all RDCK residents — including residents of Nelson and Castlegar.

The projection was considered “highly variable” depending on the area or municipality in question, with a range across the areas from about a five per cent increase to an astounding 24 per cent increase.

“Inflation and supply chain issues will continue to be a challenge in all services in 2023,” said Yev Malloff, RDCK chief financial officer.

Malloff noted that over the last three years prices on most goods and services that the RDCK purchases have significantly increased, prompting part of the taxation bump.

Part of the driving costs is a 4.4 per cent salary increase for regional district staff, and the addition of several new staff members — including the three building inspectors — adding more salaries to the total RDCK payroll.

“Last week, the board approved several new staff positions for 2023 to bolster areas where we are most at risk of negative impacts to service delivery as current staff are unreasonably stretched,” said Malloff. “Several of the new positions come with the provision that the wage costs be covered by increases in user/permit fees, rather than taxation.”

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