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City of Powell River Council sets tax rates for 2020

Councillors and mayor vote unanimously in favour of bylaw
City of Powell River council
ADOPTS BYLAW: City of Powell River council voted unanimously to set tax rates for 2020, finishing off the budgetary process for the year. Paul Galinski photo

City of Powell River Council has set the city’s taxes rates for 2020.

At the May 14 city council meeting, councillor George Doubt, chair of the finance committee, said tax rates have been a topic of discussion and planning for some time.

“We started working on this back in November and I think it is a reasonable tax increase for the times we find ourselves in,” said Doubt. “This puts us in a long-term sustainable position, given the circumstances we are in.”

Looking forward, Doubt said the city is looking for applications for the community finance advisory committee, which will give council advice on different directions for the next tax bylaw and five-year financial plan.

“I support this tax increase and I hope others do as well,” said Doubt.

Councillor Cindy Elliott said she thought the community finance advisory committee would have a lot to say about property taxes in the future and it’s a good place for people to go if they want to have input into the process.

Elliott then asked if the city had heard anything from the provincial government regarding correspondence it sent about expanding the province’s property tax deferral program.

Mayor Dave Formosa said the current program provides for seniors to defer their taxes at a low interest rate, and for families who have a certain amount of equity in their homes.

“If you just bought your home and you don’t have 15 per cent equity and you are a younger person with a family, you’re left out,” said Formosa. “There have been lots of requests.”

Doubt said in answer to Elliott’s question, there have been communications from the city, qathet Regional District, and other mayors for the provincial government to open the property tax deferral program to everyone, which he thinks is “a positive thing.”

He said the regional district sent a similar letter to the city’s and the response to the regional district was that the provincial government is not extending the tax deferral program right now but it is paying attention to what is happening economically.

“What I got from that letter was the province was going to be paying attention to what’s going on,” said Doubt. “There’s some hope and I’m hoping the mayors will keep pressure on in the phone calls they have with the minister and see if we can do something. It’s a good way to take care of people who are having difficulty during COVID-19 in paying their taxes, and it’s protecting municipalities in having some of that revenue coming in.”

Formosa said for the average homeowner, this year’s tax increase is close to the inflation rate and it might be a little bit under. He said the other portion covers the $10 million loan for the city’s liquid waste treatment plant.

Formosa said the combined levies amount to a 4.7 per cent tax increase. He said this year’s increase for ongoing operations is about the cost of living.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the 2020 property tax rates bylaw.

According to the tax rate bylaw, a residential property will pay $5.4123 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value for general municipal taxation, $0.1447 for the municipal debt on the borrowing of the $10 million, $0.7412 to qathet Regional District, and $0.1543 to Powell River Regional Hospital District.