Castlegar residents will see an increase on their tax bills in 2020.
City council passed a budget Monday night that includes a 5.67 per cent tax hike for residential properties. This follows increases of 4.92 per cent in 2019 and 3.5 per cent in 2018.
Major industry properties will see a 6.44 per cent increase and commercial properties will see a 5.69 per cent increase.
Before passing the budget, the city held several public meetings including a public open house and presentation on Nov. 26 — but no one from the public attended. Because no new input or comments from residents were received after the draft budget was made public, the city decided to forgo an extra meeting scheduled for Nov. 28.
According to the city, the increase amounts to about $67 a year for the average Castlegar property.
Almost half of the increase comes from the infrastructure investment levy introduced last year. The purpose of the new levy is to create a funding stream to replace roads, facilities, fleets and parks and to save for new infrastructure needs. The total annual funding required for the plan is $1.9 million. The program is being phased in over seven years, with tax increases slated for each of the seven years.
There are several important things to remember when looking at the property taxes you pay.
The first is that only a portion of your bill is actually for the city. The city collects property taxes on behalf of other agencies, such as the regional district and school and hospital taxes. So for the average Castlegar resident, $1,028 of your final bill is for the city, the rest is for other things.
The second is that these figures do not include the homeowner grant that you can claim on your principal residence. For 2020, that grant is $770 for people under age 65 and $1,045 for people over 65.
Finally, when a government says there is a five per cent increase, that doesn’t mean your taxes are going up from six per cent to 11 per cent, for example. It means that there will be a five percent increase of the six per cent you were already paying. So in the simplest of calculating terms, it would be more like going from six per cent to 6.3 per cent.