Councillor objects to tax notice format

City staff are suggesting that all solid waste fees be lumped together on the tax bill

The city wants to shorten its property tax notices but one councillor is concerned that will mean taxpayers aren’t seeing exactly what they are paying for.

City staff are suggesting that all solid waste fees be lumped together on the tax bill but Coun. Claire Moglove was hesitant to sign off on the change.

“My concern is that we’re trading simplicity for transparency and I think it’s important that taxpayers know exactly how much recycling costs, how much yard waste costs, and the garbage pick-up costs,” Moglove said.

Myriah Foort, the city’s finance manager, said staff’s intent with putting all of the charges together was to make things easier for the taxpayer.

“I believe it was just for simplicity,” Foort said. “These are all solid waste fees so let’s put them together as one fee.”

Dennis Brodie, the city’s finance operations supervisor, wrote in a report to council that combining the garbage, recyclables, and the yard waste fees for each home into a single solid waste user fee makes property tax bills easier to manage.

“This will reduce the number of billing lines on the annual property tax notice, which is currently at the maximum and leads to certain owners receiving multiple pages for their tax notices,” Brodie wrote.

Moglove, at last week’s council meeting, said she is not in favour of the change and said she may make an amendment when the user fee bylaw gets to third reading.

The bylaw went through first and second reading last week.

The proposed changes to the property tax bills are part of council’s overhaul of its user fees bylaw, necessary because of a reduction in 2014 user fees.

The $14 decrease is due to a financial incentive given to the city from Multi-Material B.C. in exchange for the city handing over responsibility for recycling to Multi-Material B.C.