Taxes up, down as Regional District passes budget

  • Apr. 2, 2008 2:00 p.m.

by Alex Rinfret-The regional district has adopted a budget which will raise property taxes slightly in Masset and Port Clements, lower them in Sandspit and Area D, and keep them at the same level in Queen Charlotte. The budget approved by directors Friday in Prince Rupert does not raise taxes as high as had been suggested in a draft budget presented in February. At that time, the board was considering an overall 13 percent tax hike, mostly to make up a $260,000 deficit in the islands garbage system. But directors made several changes to the budget to avoid a large tax increase. They will not be hiring an extra person to work at the islands landfill site, they will spread dump closure costs evenly over the next five years, and will reduce the $260,000 deficit over the next three years instead of all this year. Directors also decided to increase some revenues. Property owners will pay $22 per month in garbage fees, up from $17 per month, starting April 1. The regional district has also upped tipping fees at the transfer stations and landfill. The Old Massett village council and Skidegate band council, which pay an annual amount to the regional district for garbage services, will be paying much more this year and in the future. According to the budget, Old Massett’s contribution is going up to $76,560 from the $55,050 it paid last year, while Skidegate’s jumps to $93,450 from $57,762. The budget commits $35,000 to recycling on the islands this year, almost the same amount as last year, as well as $6,800 for recycling bin replacement and $11,000 for trailer replacement. Overall, the budget calls for expenditures of $855,000 on the islands waste system this year – less than the $889,000 spent in 2007. Regional district administrator John Holland said the changes mean the garbage system deficit won’t be wiped out this year, but that overall, property taxes will not be going up. The budget calls for a total tax requisition of $843,000, down from last year’s requisition of $971,000. (This is the total amount that taxpayers across the regional district will contribute. Individual taxpayers will be affected differently by the budget depending on where they live and how their property assessment compares to changes in assessments across the regional district. Also, regional district taxes are only one portion of total property taxes, which will also include municipal taxes and school taxes.) The regional district taxes pay for the islands garbage system, the QCI Recreation Commission, and provide grants for the three museums on the islands. They also go towards running the regional district office in Prince Rupert and pay the remuneration and travel expenses of the directors. Sandspit residents will be paying more this year to cover an $11,000 deficit in their new water system, Mr. Holland said. Homeowners will see their parcel utility tax go up by about 30 percent, and mobile home residents will pay $234 for water services this year, up from $178 last year. This charge is separate from the general tax requisition. The budget also increases remuneration for the four electoral area directors, including Area D director Ian Hetman and Area E director Travis Glasman, by $1,500 per year. The area directors had said they deserved more money because the six other directors also collect remuneration from their municipalities. Directors receive just under $8,000 per year, as well as $150 for each regional district meeting they attend; the chair and vice-chair receive additional amounts.

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