The City of Castlegar presented its 2019 budget and five year financial plan to the public Monday night, calling for a tax increase of almost five per cent for residential properties.
According to the city, that means an increase of about $53 for the average Castlegar home with an assessment of about $280,000.
The breakdown for the increase is two per cent for municipal inflation, 0.27 per cent for new funding requests, 0.13 per cent for operational requests and 2.52 per cent for the new asset renewal program — the infrastructure investment levy.
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 will be phased in over the next seven years, with tax increases slated for each of the seven years.
The tax increase for the levy will decrease slightly each year, starting at 2.52 per cent this year and moving down to 1.86 per cent in 2025.
Commercial properties will see a 4.87 per cent increase and major industry will see a 5.7 per cent increase.
In 2018, the increase for residential properties was 3.5 per cent.
About 15 members of the public attended the meeting, with a large number of those present representing the business community.
Several comments from the audience centered around the impact the proposed cumulative increases will have on businesses.
Local business owner Neil Kalawsky voiced his concerns and preference that the levy would be spread out over a longer period of time.
“I think there is a danger that you are laying too much cost on business, that it is not sustainable,” said Kalawsky.
“Five per cent this year, add another five next year, you add the accumulation to that and the costs are really substantial to business in a market that is in decline.”
One important thing to keep in mind when you look at your property tax bill is that only 47 per cent of the total is kept by the city. The rest is levied on behalf of other levels of government such as schools (32 per cent), the regional district (17 per cent) and the hospital district (four per cent).
Highlights of the proposed budget include:
• A new IT position
• Upgrading the council chamber’s audio system and webcasting capabilities
• Design of Columbia Avenue upgrades Phase 2
• Storm water and utility replacement on 5th Avenue and 2nd Street
• Computerized maintenance management system
• Developing the airport lands intersection
• Design of Millennium Park washroom and change room
• Replacement of 1994 fire truck
• Water system pressure reduction valve replacement
• Water system pump replacement
• Water treatment centre communication upgrades
• South sewage treatment plant centrifuge and building upgrades
The budget passed the first two readings at the council meeting that followed the public budget presentation.