Parks surplus allows Area D director to lower taxes

Taxes will be going down in Area D this year thanks to a surplus of funds

Taxes will be going down in Area D this year thanks to a surplus of funds held in a savings account for area parks and other capital projects.

Area D Director Brenda Leigh chose to refund taxpayers $350,000 which will be put towards reducing the tax rate in Area D. The estimated property tax of $1,339 for the average assessed home at $296,115  is a decrease of $95.22 over the 2013 tax rate. Cortes Island Director Noba Anderson pointed out that it’s a significant amount of money that’s being refunded but said she was confident Leigh was doing the right thing.

“I have some unease with having no public input,” Anderson said March 12 at the regional district board meeting. “I trust there’s been consultation in your community that hasn’t come to the board. It’s just a lot of money (but) I trust your judgement.”

Some directors were concerned with passing all three readings and adoption of the necessary bylaw all at once but Director Jim Abram (Quadra Island) said the topic has been discussed previously and the board should be familiar with what’s going on.

“This item has been back and forth for at least a year,” Abram said.

Leigh said it had to be done at last week’s meeting because the refund will affect the tax numbers in the Strathcona Regional District’s financial plan, which is scheduled to be adopted at the March 27 meeting.

Leigh also defended her decision.

“I have plenty of funds in my parks reserve – more than we need,” Leigh said. “I almost did it last year and I cancelled it at the last minute and I’m doing it this year. It’s not a snap decision. It’s been going on for a long time.”

In the end, the board approved a bylaw to authorize the refund of the surplus monies.