Council for the Village of Cumberland has put through bylaws for increases to frontage tax rates to fund local infrastructure. Record file photo

Cumberland council moves on parcel tax frontage hikes

Increases linked to infrastructure work costs in the coming years

Cumberland council put bylaws for utility frontage tax rates through three readings at a recent meeting, with adoption potentially set for March 9.

Chief financial officer Michelle Mason presented council with information about the bylaws on Feb. 24. The frontage taxes cover water, sewer and stormwater rates for the annual budget to fund infrastructure.

Council already adopted its water and sewer use rates in December and its financial plan bylaw in January.

“The next step is to move forward with the frontage tax rates,” Mason told council.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland council plans for tax, utility increases

RELATED STORY: Cumberland approves budget; relies on borrowed funds

The staff report notes council will consider property tax rates in April with the latest assessment data from the BC Assessment Authority. At present, the planned increases over 2019 work out to 4.62 per cent for municipal property taxes, 1.96 per cent for utility fees and, if approved, a 9.6 per cent for the frontage taxes.

The frontage tax rates amendment bylaws for the year are considered the next step for the annual financial plan, with the bylaws amending the current frontage tax rates for the utilities. The staff report notes the increases over the next few years are to fully fund infrastructure asset replacements in the community. A table included in the report compares rates based on taxable frontage by feet on properties for 2019 versus 2o2o and the coming years.

For water, the rate was $1.46 per foot. It goes up to $1.55 this year, then increases to between $1.65 and $1.99 between 2021 and 2024. With sewer, the 2019 rate was $1.80. This rises to $1.91, then rates are projected to be between $2.03 and $2.44 in the subsequent years. The stormwater rate was $1.08 and will go up to $1.30 in 2020. In the succeeding years, this rises to between $1.54 and $2.45 a year.

In 2020, the median property size amount for all three taxes should work out to a total of about $285.60, compared with $260.40 in 2019. The range runs from $238 for the smallest parcel to $476 for the largest, with $296.75 ending up as the average.

The Village’s main goals for the revenue are to fund necessary water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure over the next 20 years, reduce its dependence on Royston water sales during the next five years, create reserve funds each year for water meter replacements, fund the water supply and estimated sewer treatment operating costs and, finally, stabilize rate increases required through to 2024.

Owners of properties affected by the parcel tax bylaws can have complaints go before a parcel tax review. They can make complaints on grounds of errors or omissions around names and address on the tax roll, the inclusion of a parcel, the taxable area or frontage or if an exemption has been improperly disallowed or allowed.

Coun. Jesse Ketler asked, as an example, whether an owner would pay sewer frontage tax if they are not connected to sewer service. Mason clarified the reason there might an exemption.

“It would be a lot that will never have service to the sewer, then they wouldn’t pay sewer,” she said, “but if it’s a subdivision and it’s just a normal one … they’re all going to have access to sewer, so they pay on the lot.”

If a parcel tax review panel meeting is required to hear complaints, it will be scheduled for March 23 at 4:30 p.m., though property owners must contact the Village no later than 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

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