Summerland’s 2015 budget calls for a property tax increase

Summerland’s 2015 budget calls for a property tax increase

Property tax increase proposed

The municipal budget for 2015 calls for a property tax increase and increases in municipal utility rates.

The municipal budget for 2015 calls for a property tax increase and increases in municipal utility rates.

For the coming year, the municipality’s general fund has a budget of $11,327,346.

Of this amount, $7,421,643 will come from taxes. In addition, $2,130,685 will come from sales of services and rentals.

The remaining money comes from grants, licenses, permits and fines, penalties and interest and transfers from other municipal funds.

Lorrie Coates, director of finance for the municipality, presented council with a recommendation for a three per cent property tax increase, a five per cent increase for non-irrigator water, a five per cent sewer rate increase and a 2.625 per cent electrical rate increase.

The proposed property tax increase is dedicated to infrastructure costs.

Municipal staff set out a list of capital projects for the coming year, with a value of $3,042,477 for all. For a three per cent tax increase, the projects would total $2,244,477.

Calculations were also made based on tax increases of 2.5 per cent and 3.5.

Coates said each one per cent increase in the property tax rate brings in roughly $67,500.

The water rate increase is to cover an anticipated drop in usage and an increase in core costs. The sewer fund increase is to cover the increased core costs of that service.

The electrical rate increase is 75 per cent of an anticipated 3.5 per cent increase by Fortis B.C. Coates said the cost of electricity from Fortis B.C. represents three-quarters of the electrical budget, so the increase was based on three-quarters of the power cost to the municipality.

Taxpayers will notice additional costs from the budget.

For a typical home with an assessed value of $350,000, the property tax increase, the electrical, water and sewer rate increases would add a total of $106.51.

Of the proposed increase, 40 per cent will cover infrastructure costs, 40 per cent will cover operating costs from Fortis and from the Interior Health Authority, six per cent covers a decrease in water consumption and 14 per cent is for the water and sewer administration fee and fleet costs.

Coates said decreased water consumption has resulted in changes to the water costs.

“For an average family who turns on lights, expects clean water to come from the tap when they open it, flushes the toilet, travels on local roads and sidewalks, enjoys police and fire protection and uses recreation and park facilities, it will cost slightly more than an extra 29 cents per day in 2015,” Coates said in her presentation to the municipality.

These increased costs do not include increases from any other taxing agency such as the school district, hospital, library or Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

The recommendations to approve the funding of the core budget, the property tax increase and rate increases and the discretionary spending items will be considered at the next regular meeting of council on Monday, Feb. 23.

“This is a critical budget,” Waterman said. “It’s our first budget.” He added that a decision on the budget should be made at a regular meeting of council, not a special meeting, in order to ensure the public has the opportunity to comment.

“We’re now entering a new phase with this council with public participation,” he said.

The budget bylaw must be completed by May 15. The bylaw is expected to come before council at a March council meeting.