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RDBN discussed tax rates and increases

Residential property assessments increased due to market value and new construction; John Illes
Regional District of Bulkley Nechako discussed tax rates and estimated tax increases for major services on Jan. 25. (File photo/Lakes District News)

At the Jan. 25 meeting, the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) discussed tax rates and estimated tax increases for major services.

The general tax rates for all major services were proposed to increase from $0.919 per thousand to $0.923 for rural properties and from $0.736 to $0.739 for municipal properties.

John Illes, RDBN’s chief financial officer, indicated that two things had a rough increase in residential property assessments from 3.8 million to roughly 4.9 million over five years [2020-2024] due to market value and new construction.

He added that much of this significant market price increase has to do with Coastal GasLink’s pipeline construction.

“It’s a good perspective of what’s been happening to the regional district as a whole,” Illes said.

For the average property that faces a property assessment increase of 2.36 per cent, the increase in taxes paid over those paid in 2023 is expected to be 2.8 per cent for rural properties and 2.7 per cent for municipal properties.

However, residential properties have had a smaller assessment increase than other properties -such as those zoned commercial or industrial.

The residential tax increase over the amount paid in 2023 is expected to be 1.1 per cent for rural taxpayers and 1 per cent for municipal residential taxpayers. This proposed budget includes $1.1 million in strategic initiatives for the 2024 taxation year to capture the additional non-market revenue - mainly pipeline.

Environmental Services

The Environmental Services budget is limited by a maximum requisition of $4,375,000 until the 2026 taxation year, when the limit can be increased by $1,093,750 or 25 per cent to $5,468,750.

Curtis Helgesen, RDBN’s chief administrative officer, said with the consumer price index (CPI) coming up at 3.4 per cent, the average property CPI is at 2.8 - 2.7 per cent. He said this was below all average property classes and a 1 per cent increase for the residents who own residential property valuing $250,000.

“So from a budget perspective, and a big picture perspective, our budget is coming in to save the residents at around 1 per cent on a $250,000 home,” Helgesen said.

He added that RDBN, from an environmental services perspective, will look for savings on taxes to directly charge the people who weren’t diverting from it.

To minimize the increase in taxation expected in 2026, Helgesen recommended that the $1 million in regional-wide strategic initiatives be utilized for two years [2024 and 2025], and it will be allocated within the Environmental Services 2026 budget requisition.

This strategy will allow $2 million for RDBN strategic priorities over the next two years.

Weed Control

Shirley Moon, RDBN’s Vanderhoof director, said that $35,000 is a small amount for weed control.

“Last year, we had a discussion and sent a letter asking if we can have better reporting. Do you continue receiving that funding? I’m not sure we got in this past year,” she said.

Nellie Davis, RDBN’s economic development manager, said that the Northwest Invasive Plant Council has been requested to give a more thorough update of their 2023 activities and plans for 2024.

The Northwest Invasive Plant Council grant of $35,000 from this service remains the same as in previous years. This is an Electoral Area service only.

After the discussion, Mark Parker, RDBN’s chairperson, said that the major services budget could be carried out if there are no further comments and questions. Board agreed to it.