Today’s Poll

Dramatic rise in taxation settles in from regional district budget

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
April 17th, 2023

Although regional district taxes are only increasing seven per cent for Nelsonites in 2023, compared to almost 24 per cent in some RDCK municipalities, the city still pays the lion’s share of regional district taxes.

The board of directors at the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) stamped the newest version of the 2023-2027 Financial Plan late last month and decreed that Nelson will be paying $4.973 million (12.8 per cent) to cover the services it shares.

Overall, the total taxation collected from 11 electoral areas and nine municipalities in the regional district adds up to $38.7 million, up from $34.8 million in 2022.

The 2023-2027 Financial Plan had an average of 12 per cent increase in taxes for all RDCK residents — but places such as the Village of New Denver will see a jump as high as 24.1 per cent.

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

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, adding more salaries to the total RDCK payroll.

“(T)he 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.”

In addition, short-term borrowing costs have risen for the regional district with up to a four per cent increase in annual interest rates.

Biting the bullet

Other regional district areas are receiving new facilities and services, accounting for the unprecedented rise in taxation.

The Castlegar and District Community Complex arena floor repair, estimated at $1.5 million, is the impetus behind a large increase in taxation in Castlegar and the surrounding areas. The work results in a 22.2 per cent increase to RDCK taxes paid by Castlegarians.

As well, increases in fire protection service costs are also contributing to some of the more substantial increases, with “shifts” in assessment accounting for the taxation change in other areas.

“Asset management will have an increased focus across most services,” noted Malloff. “This will increase costs in the short term, but will pay dividends with improved financial planning, asset availability and service delivery over the mid to long term.”

Across the board

The neighbouring areas of E and F will have a 10.4 per cent and 12.6 per cent rise in taxes, respectively.

The Slocan Valley (Area H) will have an 11.7 per cent rise, with valley municipalities of New Denver (24.1 per cent), Slocan (19.1 per cent) and Silverton (20.2 per cent) having a large lump of taxes to swallow this year.

Looking north, Nakusp will see one of the smallest increases at 4.1 per cent, while Area C (Creston rural) has the lowest increase at 1.9 per cent. Creston itself will only be a 5.9 per cent increase.

Area A (East Shore) will see an 11 per cent increase, with Area B (Creston rural east) at 5.8 per cent. At the top of Kootenay Lake in Area D the increase will be 8.7 per cent, the nearby municipality of Kaslo rising by 11.2 per cent and the area south of Nelson and surrounding Salmo — Area G — rising by 19.7 per cent. The residents of Salmo will be paying 7.8 per cent more on their taxes this year.

Area I — between Nelson and Castlegar — will show a 22.8 per cent hike, with Area J east of Castlegar seeing an 18.2 per cent increase. Area K in the northern section of the Arrow Lakes will only be a 6.8 per cent increase.

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