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Campbell River council endorses tax increase

Campbell River taxpayers will see a 2.5 per cent tax hike this year
City council has set its tax rate bylaw for 2017

It’s almost official.

Campbell River property owners will likely see a 2.5 per cent increase to their tax bill this year after city council, at its Monday meeting, gave first three readings to this year’s tax rate bylaw.

The residential tax hike, which equates to a $36 increase for the average assessed Campbell River home, was directed by council in December during 2017 budget planning.

The tax rate bylaw is required of all municipal councils under the Community Charter by May 15 and sets out the city’s tax policy.

“Council must, by bylaw, impose property value taxes for the year by establishing tax rates for municipal purposes,” wrote Mark Coulter, the city’s acting finance operations supervisor, in a report to council.

The bylaw also meets the city’s taxing obligations to the Strathcona Regional District, the Regional Hospital District, the Regional Solid Waste Board and the Vancouver Island Regional Library, all of which the city collects taxes on behalf of.

Myriah Foorte, the city’s finance manager, said the City of Campbell River’s tax rates are comparable to other B.C. municipalities but more work is still to be done.

“I did do a review this year of all of our tax rates and compared them to the provincial average and we’re close,” Foorte said. “It’s on finance’s work plan for 2017 to review our tax rates policy. We’ll be coming to council ahead of (2018) financial planning to take a look at that.”

One of the areas council wants to take a look at is the industrial tax rate.

Coun. Charlie Cornfield questioned why the city only has a tax policy for light industrial but not heavy industrial while Mayor Andy Adams wanted to know what separates the classifications.

“Where’s that line that separates light industrial from medium industrial to major industrial? Is it defined by the use, is it defined by the dollar amount of the assessed value?” Adams asked. “What separates the categories?”

Coun. Colleen Evans agreed that for next year it would be useful to have that additional information “just to support transparency.” She also suggested including the previous year’s rates.

“Just to have that comparative from last year to this year would also be helpful,” Evans said.

Foorte said staff would take council’s comments into consideration and incorporate the suggestions into next year’s tax rate report.

Meanwhile, for this year, tax bills will be going out in the mail to Campbell River homes before the end of May. Tax levies for each of the city’s tax classes are listed on the annual tax notices. Property taxes for this year are due by July 4.

Tax policies

  • Utilities tax rate brought up to provincial average over four years, ending in 2017
  • Light industry tax rate to equal Business tax rate
  • Business and Other pays 21 per cent of the overall general tax levy
  • Managed Forests tax rate to align with the provincial average
  • Farm tax rate to equal Residential tax rate
  • New revenues related to the downtown permissive exemption bylaw are allocated to the capital program