The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) is contemplating a six per cent property tax increase this coming year.
While that is a lot higher than many previous years, as noted by conversation at the elected directors’ table, it is actually lower than many residents feared who looked at property assessment values as an indicator.
“The average property price in the Regional District increased in weighted value by 11.5 per cent
(including both rural and municipal properties),” said a report presented to the elected officials by RDBN’s chief financial officer John Illes. “The average property price for rural properties increased by 13.2 per cent.”
Illes and the finance department presented four scenarios for discussion purposes: no increase, which would bring in almost $6.4-million for RDBN services, plus four, six, and eight per cent options. The latter would bring in just short if $7.2-million.
The zero option would still bring in $210,000 more than last year, said Illes.
“This is a result of new construction (or non-market changes),” the report specified. “It is noted that for all scenarios the tax rate actually decreases as compared to the tax rate in 2022. This is because an 8 per cent tax increase is still less than the 11.5 per cent market rate increase.”
The pool of RDBN revenue is, of course, spread out among eight municipalities and seven rural districts. The highest contributors to the overall budget, last year, were the Town of Smithers at just over $1-million and Area A (the area surrounding Smithers including such communities as Evelyn and Quick) at $966,000. The lowest were the Village of Granisle at $18,944 and the Village of Fraser Lake at $152,000.
Burns Lake’s contribution was $184,000 last year.
There are some areas of expense being recommended for their data-sets - known as service area budgets - to be broken out and included in ongoing budget reviews. These include the control of invasive plants, the Fort St. James Public Library, para-transit, building inspection, and others.
The recommended service area budgets pertaining to the Lakes District include: Burns Lake and Area Victim Services, Lakes District Airport, Burns Lake Arena, Lakes District Arts and Culture, and Burns Lake and Area Television Rebroadcasting.
“(These sub-categories) have been reviewed by the Village of Burns Lake council and electoral directors for Areas B (Burns Lake Rural) and E (Francois/Ootsa Lake Rural). The Village of Burns Lake council has recommended that these budgets be included in the Regional District’s budget,” said Illes in the report.
“Some minor service budgets are waiting for information from the municipal service provider associated with the service. For example, Telkwa Rural Fire Service is prepared after the budget for the Telkwa Fire Department is approved. These rural services will be brought forward at the first meeting in March.”
The budget bylaw will not be adopted until March 31, so there is still much discussion still ahead.