Regional district raises taxes

Campbell River homeowners will be hit with another property tax increase as the Strathcona Regional District approved tax hikes for some regions.

Directors approved and adopted the regional district’s 2013-2017 financial plan at a board meeting Thursday afternoon.

The budget includes a $6.28 property tax increase, an average household property tax of $202.52 on the average Campbell River home while taxes on Quadra Island are expected to increase on average by $8.72 to an average property tax of $358.61.

On Cortes Island property taxes are set to rise by $2.16 for the average home to $707.39.

In Sayward taxes will increase by an average of $1.40 to an average price of $29.01 and in Tahsis taxes are expected to go up by $0.45 to $13.13 for the average assessed home.

Taxes in Zeballos will go up $0.24 to an average property tax charge of $13.51 while in the Nootka/Kyuquot area property taxes will go down by $13.17 to $94.52 for the average home. Taxes will also go down in Gold River by $0.08 to an average price of $16.78. Area D (Oyster Bay-Buttle Lake) is set to see the most substantial tax hike with taxes expected to go up on average by $222.53 to $1,433.01 for the average assessed home at $297,694.

The increase is largely due to Area D’s water rates which have gone up 100 per cent.

Director Brenda Leigh has vowed to fight the city, which supplies Area D’s water, on its rate increase of $0.80 per cubic metre from the previous $0.40.

The city said the rate brings Area D customers in line with the city’s fee structure for all water customers outside the city boundaries.

“The city’s water rates are higher for customers located outside city limits to ensure that all the costs of delivering water to these areas are covered,” said Ron Neufeld, the city’s general manager of operations. “The higher rate reflects the higher cost of delivering water to the outer limits of the city’s water system and also compensates for water charges that customers within city boundaries pay, but that the city is unable to collect from customers outside City limits.”

Leigh said Area D is a victim of taxation without representation.

“Area D is currently subject to an unfair system where our taxpayers are not represented on any water committee, we are not told what we are being asked to pay for, except that the proposed increases are city policy,” Leigh said in a report to the board in March.

Leigh voted in opposition to the entire regional district budget last week in protest of the water rates.

“I’m voting against the budget in protest of Area D water rates,” Leigh said.

“I strongly object. I will be making all sorts of appeals to (the water rates). This amount is a registered dispute and a mediator is coming in.”

Director Jim Abram (Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets) also opposed the budget and told regional directors he would be “voting against in principle.”

Abram said he couldn’t support a human resources/communications position at Strathcona Gardens or an $18,000 transfer to reserves for the Quathiaski Cove Sewer project on Quadra Island.

Abram said he received advice from the provincial government to not put funding towards the project this year when next year gas tax funds could be put towards the cost if it turns out the entire sewer plant needs replacing.

“Their argument was why put contingency money aside if we can use the gas tax next year and I bought their argument,” Abram said.

Area A (Kyuquot/Nootka-Sayward) director Gerald Whalley also voted in opposition to the budget.

Whalley had tried at a previous meeting to fund the new communications/human resources position from the Strathcona Gardens budget but directors had already voted to fund the position using the regional district’s general administration budget.

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