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Above and beyond: City rises above in delivering tax take total for 2023

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
April 26th, 2023

If you were looking for a tax break during these times of rising inflation from the municipal corporation that serves Nelson, think again: the City is moving ahead with a 5.8 per cent property tax increase this year.

On Tuesday night during a special city council meeting in council chambers the elected officials passed third reading on the Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw that calls for the increase.

And they didn’t stop there. Add in a two per cent hike to water rates, another two per cent hike to the sewer utility bill and a four per cent jump for the urban Nelson Hydro customers, and the tax bite starts to become several mouthfuls.

Where the choking begins is the additional seven per cent that the Regional District of Central Kootenay will be asking for on the tax bill, and a yet-to-be determined chunk from School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) and the regional hospital authority.

BC Assessment and Municipal Finance Authority taxes make up the remainder of the tax bill.

On the flatline side, at that same meeting council approved a zero per cent increase to the annual rate for residential resource recovery, remaining at $100 for 2023. There was no increase to the $1.75 bag tag fee.

“All proposed expenditures, funding sources and transfers, to or between funds, must be included in the plan,” noted City chief financial officer Chris Jury in his report to council. “In considering the proposed larger tax increase this year, a key fact to keep in mind is that over the past five years council has been able to keep overall tax and fee increases below, or at, yearly inflation rates provided by Statistics Canada.”

For the average residential home in Nelson, the municipal property taxes for 2023 are estimated to be $1,936 (or $161 per month). The water and sewer increases equate to a $22 rise for a single-family home and $64 for a 50-seat restaurant over and above the 2022 rates.

Setting tax rate

An Annual Tax Rate bylaw is also required in order to collect the appropriate funds to finance the activities laid out in the financial plan.

This year City of Nelson taxes are due at the end of the business day on July 4 — with a 10 per cent penalty on taxes paid after this date. The tax rates presented are based on the 2023-2027 Five-Year Financial Plan that was presented for first three readings on Tuesday.

The City takes a “fixed share approach” to tax rates between classes; where the share of the total tax levy collected from each property class remains consistent over time, subject to adjustments arising from non-market (new construction) change in the assessment role or council’s decision to adjust the share for each class.

In 2023, with the adjustments made for new construction, 74 per cent of property tax will be contributed by residential taxpayers and 25 per cent from the commercial sector.

Source: City of Nelson, April 25 agenda

Getting there

The 2023-2027 financial plan process included council and city staff having a variety of internal, external and public meetings over the past six months to review current financial performance, budgetary pressures and forecast departmental budgets.

The budget open house was held March 30 at City Hall, with the presentation being streamed online for the fourth year. There were members of the public present as well, with five non-staff and council participants.

“Council should be aware that, other than the few questions that were asked at the presentation, the Finance department did not receive any more questions or communications from the public regarding the budget or the budget presentation,” said Jury.

Source: City of Nelson, April 25 agenda

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