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Financial plan voted on at City of Powell River meeting

Councillors give first three readings to city’s budget
TAXING ISSUES: City of Powell River councillors provided first three readings to the five-year financial plan at a recent city council meeting. The budget and tax rate bylaws must be adopted prior to May 15. There will be a city-sponsored open house on March 23 where taxpayers can meet with municipal staff and councillors to discuss the financial plan.

City of Powell River councillors have given the first three readings to the 2023 to 2027 financial plan.

At the March 16 city council meeting, councillor Trina Isakson, chair of the city’s finance committee, said at finance committee meetings starting in 2022, staff members were directed to build the budget based on current service levels.

Isakson said there are two parts to council approving the budget and taxes.

“Today we are voting to read, a first, second and a third time, the financial plan,” said Isakson. “It’s the budget. There will be another meeting where we talk about tax rates. The financial plan is the amount of money we need to have a balanced budget.

“We are legally required by the provincial government to have a balanced budget. At a subsequent council meeting, you’ll see us reading for a first, second and third time, the tax rates.”

Isakson said the city will have the money it needs to raise, and then the specific rates that are applied to businesses, industry and houses, in the second bylaw.

“Today, we are talking about the five-year financial plan,” said Isakson. “Some highlights from this financial plan include the total property tax levy increase of 5.4 per cent. What that means is the total amount of money we need to raise is increasing by 5.4 per cent. That includes things like increases in salary changes based on our collective agreements; there are a few new positions in the budget this year, there are increases in costs due to inflation, et cetera. That amount needs to be taxed.”

Isakson said for an average single-family dwelling, the property tax increase is $99, or about 4.3 per cent. She said the total city taxes and charges increase on a single-family dwelling is 4.4 per cent, or $147.

“There’s a lot of assumptions when people want to find out about their taxes,” said Isakson. “People can come to the open house on March 23 if they want to learn more about what their property tax notice looks like. Today, we are speaking specifically about the five-year financial plan.”

Isakson said the open house will be held at 4:30 pm in the Poplar Room at Powell River Recreation Complex.

“This is an opportunity for members of the public to speak with most members of council and our chief financial officer,” said Isakson. “It’s more of an opportunity to learn and ask questions about tax notices, the budgeting process, the tax deferral program, and those sorts of things.

“The format is not going to be formal, but it is an open house model where people are chatting more informally. We hope to answer questions and hear input.”