Parks Parcel Tax increase may stick around for the next five years

City council began the legal process last week to increase the parks and recreation portion of residents’ property tax bills

City council began the legal process last week to increase the parks and recreation portion of residents’ property tax bills.

Council, at its March 23 meeting, gave first and second reading to a bylaw to raise the Parks Parcel Tax by $12.

The increase, from $25 to $37 annually, was decided on by council during budget planning sessions in February.

While council chose to implement the increase for 2015 only, city staff were recommending last week that the increase be extended.

“The parcel tax has capital projects planned through 2019,” wrote Dennis Brodie, the city’s finance operations supervisor, in a report to council. “It is thus staff’s recommendation that the current term of the parcel tax, which is set to expire in 2016, be extended through 2019 to ensure that the parks capital plan can be funded appropriately.”

But that caused some concern for Coun. Charlie Cornfield.

“Okay, so we’re married to the $12 increase for the other years of our term currently, but could we not amend that?” Cornfield asked.

Mayor Andy Adams said council wouldn’t necessarily have to be tied to that amount.

“We could amend that any year at financial planning,” Adams said.

Brodie said the $12 increase will generate approximately $162,000 annually for the city which will go into a savings account for use in the acquisition, development and improvement of the city’s parks and trails.

The funds are also earmarked for projects that council approved in its five-year capital plan, including Robert Ostler Park foreshore restoration, the artificial turf at Robron, a possible Nunns Creek Master Plan in 2016, accessible beach mats, and resurfacing of the tennis courts at Willow Point Park.

“It will be necessary to extend the current term of the Parks Parcel Tax through, at minimum, 2019 to ensure adequate funding exists,” Brodie wrote. “Staff are recommending extending the term of the parcel tax through 2019 to ensure the five-year capital plan has adequate funding.”

Council in the end gave first and second reading to a bylaw amendment which imposes the $12 increase for a five year period.

Council could, however, amend the bylaw again next year if during financial planning it wishes to change the Parks Parcel Tax rate.