The District of Clearwater council is considering a tax increase this year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges in collecting revenue.
While an increase has not yet been finalized, a one per cent increase to business taxes and a two per cent increase in residential taxes are on the table as council reviews the five year financial plan for 2021. A decision will be made in March or early April.
Just over 60 per cent of collected taxes stayed in the the district as it is collected for many different organizations, including municipal finance authority, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, school tax, police tax, regional hospital and BC assessments.
Almost 55 per cent ($1.435 million) of property taxes collected by the DOC came from residential in 2020, followed by businesses with 25.8 per cent ($682,850) and utilities at 18.1 per cent ($480,000). Taxes collected from other industries, such as “light industry” (0.0692 per cent) pale in comparison to the other three.
Just under two percent of tax revenue came from major industry, but the District will not see revenue in that category this year because of the closure of the Canfor sawmill.
Similar to previous years, the majority of the tax dollars collected were spent on roads, which amounted to 37 per cent of the budget. Following was general government (15 per cent), fire protection (11 per cent), community parks (nine per cent), North Thompson Sportsplex (eight per cent), public works (six per cent), protective services and transit (both at three per cent).
Roads were identified as the number one capital priority for residents in a survey conducted by the DOC in 2019. The 2021 financial plan has proposed to contribute $120,000 to the roads reserve and $90,000 to the fire department equipment reserve.
Capital project proposals include the Brookfield bridge repair ($120,000), equipment for fire and protective services, including self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), SCBA compressor and turnout gear ($178,000), Wells Gray Inn roundabout ($497,000 and grant dependent) and roof repairs to the Sportsplex ($20,000).
In the new 2021 financial plan, the district plans to increase residential and business taxes to offset increasing costs. The balance is to be placed in an infrastructure reserve for future asset repair and replacement.