Taxpayers in both Masset and Port Clements are getting abreak this year-there will be no tax increases, in fact taxes in Port are going down. We have two reports, by Alex Rinfret.
The average Masset resident will pay the same amount of municipal tax this year as they did last year, according to the budget adopted by council Monday night (May 10).
Although the tax rate itself is up slightly, to $9.03 per $1,000 of assessed value from last year’s rate of $8.58, assessed values are down about 5 per cent, said chief financial officer Kim Mushynsky. Overall, the village will raise $480,500 through property taxes, exactly the same amount as last year, she said.
According to the village’s financial statements, Masset did well in 2003, bringing in more revenue than expected and spending less than planned in several areas.
One of the biggest factors in the village’s financial performance is the airport, which brought in almost $1.2-million in revenue, mostly in fuel sales, Ms Mushynsky said.
As in Port Clements, most of the village’s capital projects are being paid for through grants. Masset is planning to spend close to $2-million on capital projects this year.
Council has approved a budget which will see the average resident paying less municipal taxes this year than they did last year.
The residential tax rate rises to $6.08 per $1,000 of assessed value this year from $5.62 last year, but because assessments in the village have fallen, most people will end up paying less, mayor Dale Lore said Monday night (May 10).
According to the village, the average single family house in Port is assessed at $49,361, down from an average of $55,814 last year. The municipal tax paid by the owner of that average house would come to $765.88 this year, compared to $828.51 in 2003.
These amounts are simply the municipal tax – the homeowner will have to pay more tax for items like schools, hospitals and libraries, but these rates are beyond the control of the village council.
Council members accomplished the tax reduction by using some surplus funds, trimming maintenance costs and chopping their own travel budget by $10,000, Mr. Lore said. Port’s travel kitty – which covers mileage for on-island meetings and travel costs for off-island ones – is now $20,000.
“We won’ be sending a full council to the UBCM this year. We’ll be sending two councillors max,” Mr. Lore said, referring to the fall meeting of municipalities from all over the province. “It’s just not in the budget, it’s too hard to justify.”
He contrasted the decision with that of the school board, which is increasing trustees’ travel budget by $10,000 this year.
Council members said they wanted to keep the tax rates from rising because they are aware that many people in town are not working as much.
“All I can say is, thank heaven for the Gwaii Trust,” said councillor Gerry Johnson.
Gwaii Trust funding (combined in some cases with other federal and provincial funding) will allow the village to complete several major projects this year: road improvements, the St. Mark’s church restoration, washrooms at the community park, an electrical upgrade at the community park, the purchase of emergency radios, and studies and upgrades for the village’s water and sewer system. The village also wants to extend the Sunset Park trail and build public showers for its campground, depending on whether it receives an additional grant, Mr. Lore said.