Courtenay council

Bylaw calls for 2.75 per cent tax hike in Courtenay

Public has until April 21 to provide feedback

Courtenay council has approved first reading of the 2019-2023 financial plan bylaw that calls for a 2.75 per cent increase to property taxes this year.

Manno Theos is the lone member of council to oppose the bylaw.

For 2019, projected capital spending is slightly under $14 million. Theos is concerned about dwindling reserves and surpluses in the face of large expenses. The City is transferring $13.4 million from reserves, and taking into revenue. Projected reserve balances at the end of 2023 are $16.2 million.

“With a large portion of the community on fixed incomes, the five-year plan was definitely moving in a direction beyond the inflation rate,” Theos said at Monday’s meeting. “The numbers are significant.”

Mayor Bob Wells notes that costs continue to rise if major projects, such as resurfacing the 5th Street Bridge, continue to be postponed.

Coun. Doug Hillian suggests reserves and surpluses are accumulated due to good stewardship and because tax revenue has not been spent in past years.

“To me it’s quite appropriate that that source of revenue be expended when we’re looking at significant capital spending on needed infrastructure,” Hillian said.

The property tax increase for an average residential property, valued at $435,616, is estimated at $38.92. When water, sewer and solid waste user fees are applied, the impact is $88.79.

For a commercial property valued at $819,332, the property tax increase is estimated to be $201.52.

Theos is concerned that Courtenay has had more success attracting residents than businesses.

“We’re still moving in a direction that concerns me, tremendously,” he said. “When I’ve looked at it (tax multiplier) in the past across B.C., we are one of the highest, and that’s not a reputation that we want to have in this community. I’m troubled to support this.”

Coun. David Frisch said lowering the tax multiplier will not necessarily result in more businesses.

“I think we should look at other ways to encourage businesses to come to town,” he said.

The 2019 budget includes:

· No new borrowing

· $14 million in capital expenses for infrastructure projects and upgrades

· $52 million in operating expenses

· $220,800 transferred from gaming funds to the Asset Management Infrastructure Reserve Fund

Public comments about budget items will be considered before the financial plan re-appears before council at a special meeting April 29. The budget needs to be adopted by May 15. Tax notices will be mailed by the end of May.

To review the financial plan, and background reports and presentations, visit www.courtenay.ca/financialplan

For information on the relationship between your property assessment and property taxes, visit www.courtenay.ca/assessments

To provide feedback on the financial plan, email budget@courtenay.ca by April 21.

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