Budget open houses attract public interest

District of Clearwater would like to increase its tax rate by 9.5 per cent

About 30 people showed up for two open houses hosted by District of Clearwater on Thursday, Feb. 12. Purpose of the meetings was to discuss the municipality’s five-year financial plan.

Only one member of the public showed up for the same meetings last year.

Reason for the increased interest appears to have been news that the District would like to increase its tax rate by 9.5 per cent.

The proposed tax increase would amount to $75 per year for the average home in Clearwater, which is assessed at $193,000.

The increase comes on top of an increase of nearly six per cent last year.

Despite the increases, taxes and charges on a representative home in Clearwater are still much lower than many other communities of similar size.

Information in a handout provided by the District ranked Clearwater 10th out of 12 municipalities.

The owner of an average home in Clearwater would pay $699 in general municipal taxes, $1,636 in taxes to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, hospital district, school taxes and so on, $110 in parcel taxes, and $526 in user fees (water and sewer, but many are not charged for sewer and some don’t pay either). This gives a total of $2,272.

Fruitvale ranks at the top of the list for total residential property taxes and charges, with a total of $3,223. The average house value there is $213,477.

Other communities where homeowners pay more than Clearwater include Lumby, Ashcroft, Enderby, Sicamous, Burns Lake, Chase and 100 Mile House.

Only Valemount (at $2,220) and Barriere (at $1,511) pay less than Clearwater.

Two main reasons were given for the increases. The first was that taxes were kept artificially low for a couple of years after incorporation because of the downturn in the forest economy.

Canfor temporarily closed its Vavenby operation and so taxes were reduced for 2010 and 2011.

The mill rate was restored to 2009 level in 2012, and then increased again the following year.

The second main reason given was that last September Clearwater took on road maintenance within its boundaries (for the first five years after incorporation the province took care of the roads).

Spending on roads is predicted to go from about $300,000 last year to more than $600,000 this year.

That helped push the total budget up from $1.95 million last year to $2.11 million this year.

 

For more about the budget meetings, see page XX inside.