Council for the Village of Cumberland discussed tax and utility hikes at Nov. 25 meeting. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland council plans for tax, utility increases

Financial plan bylaw gets first reading, utilities get three readings

The Village of Cumberland is proposing increases to municipal taxes, utility fees and frontage taxes for its next budget.

Council introduced bylaws for the financial plan and utility rates at the regular meeting on Nov. 25.

The proposed hike to municipal taxes is 4.62 per cent. Utility fees are scheduled to go up by 1.96 per cent. Finally, frontage taxes for each property will rise by 9.6 per cent. The frontage fees are parcel taxes used to cover annual capital underground infrastructure asset renewal. Chief financial officer Michelle Mason said these covered all properties, including vacant land, though she added, “anyone who is exempt from taxes wouldn’t pay them.”

Mason presented the proposals to council on Monday night, saying that night’s meeting would be the time for council members to bring any changes to staff, so they can be brought back for the next meeting.

Staff met Nov. 1 to work on the financial plan and make a couple of modifications. The plan was presented at a Village hall meeting on Nov. 18 and written comments were accepted up to Nov. 19. The Village had received only written comment prior to Monday’s meeting.

“The one comment that we did receive though was support for the fire hall,” Mason said.

RELATED STORY: Alternate approval process for Cumberland fire hall extended

Council gave first reading for the hike to the taxes in the financial plan and gave first, second and third readings to the utility rates bylaw. The utility rates cover water, sanitary sewer and solid waste service.

The public still has an opportunity to provide feedback to the Village on the 2020-2024 financial plan. The plan is to take input before the next meeting. Council can still make changes, though this means things would not be finalized until a meeting at the end of January. However, Mason said this still gives the Village enough time to adopt the financial plan.

“If you’re not sure and you need some more information to come back or anything like that, then we’re looking at probably Jan. 28 for adoption, which isn’t the end of the world,” she told council.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule asked how the Village funded underground infrastructure renewal before the frontage tax in 2016. Mason responded that this was not really funded before 2016. The Village did have user fees but now has an actual plan in place for the infrastructure.

“We did do an extensive inventory through the operations manager,” she said, adding, “We’re increasing our reserve transfers every year.”



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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