Castlegar residents can expect a property tax increase if city council approves the 2020 budget currently on the table.
A residential hike of 5.67 per cent is needed to cover new budget items and capital projects included in the budget. This follows increases of 4.92 per cent in 2019 and 3.5 per cent in 2018.
The five-year financial plan that council passed for 2019 projected an increase of 5.7 per cent for 2020, so the actual increase is slightly less than expected.
Major industry properties will see a 6.44 per cent increase and commercial properties will see a 5.69 per cent increase.
According to the city, the increase amounts to about $67 a year for the average Castlegar property. Last year’s increase was about $53 per property.
A fair portion of the tax 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 bbeing phased in over seven years, with tax increases slated for each of the seven years.
Budget items to come out of that new taxation include: $20,000 towards the 2021 celebration of Castlegar’s 75th anniversary, $30,000 for an LED streetlight gateway, $10,000 for self-watering hanging baskets, and $5,000 for new community grants (an additional $5,000 will come out existing taxation).
Other budget changes include a five per cent increase in funding to both the Castlegar Heritage Society and Kootenay Doukhobor Historical Society, a $15,000 increase for the Kootenay Gallery of Art, and $6,000 for inspections and maintenance of the Millennium bike skills park.
The $50,000 needed for the city to develop a housing strategy will be taken from reserves.
Capital expenditures of $12.6 million are budgeted for 2020. This includes $11.1 million for previously approved multi-year capital projects, $1 million for Millennium Park and Ponds upgrades and other new projects.
The city will use a one-time gas tax payment to finance the early stages of Phase 3 of the Millennium Park and Ponds development. This will include installing a large playground and upgrading the washroom facilities.
New capital projects include: $50,000 for a cemetery columbarium, $280,000 for sewer projects, $110,000 for airport projects, $35,000 for fire hall renovations, $66,000 for IT projects, and $105,000 for Kinnaird Park improvements.
Property owners can also expect an increase to their solid and yard waste fees, proposed at another $11 a year.
A budget open house was held from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday night, but no one from the public attended.
Approval is scheduled for the Dec. 2 city council meeting.