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Powell River homeowners may face five percent tax hike

POWELL RIVER, B.C. – Powell River Council members are contemplating a five percent or less residential property tax hike on city homeowners.

Chief financial officer Adam Langenmaier said in a report to the city’s finance committee that “with the number of known expense escalations, staff is reminding Council (to) consider setting a limit on the property tax change from the prior year at five percent.”

Langenmaier noted that the impact a five percent property tax increase would have on an average single-family dwelling for 2019 would be $71.70 more than the previous year.

The 2018 tax bill for an average single family home was $1,588.84 and the proposed 2019 levy would be $1,660.54.

Powell River mayor Dave Formosa told the newsroom said the issue will come down to how high the tax hike will be.

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“Will they go up as high as staff and some councillors seem to be supporting, five percent, based on what we need; the fact that our needs are growing and our tax base is not growing fast enough? Or will we be able to somehow keep it as we’ve been doing in the past, at cost of living, which is about three percent this year?” Formosa said.

“So that’ll be the issue.”

In his report, Langenmaier identified items that he noted are the “known changes from the 2018 Financial Plan that will have a significant impact on the 2019 Financial Planning process.”

They include:

City of Powell River staff wages estimated at $750,000.

In 2018 the City paid about $12.9 million in wages. According to the report, it is expected that the wage expense will increase by 5.8 percent due to CUPE collective agreement negotiations, the new Employer Health Tax, rising medical benefit costs, and increases to Canadian Pension Plan contribution rates.

By-election estimated at $45,000.

Due to the recent election ruling from the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the City will be required to hold a by-election. The expected cost is $45,000. During a normal election the City is able to share the burden of the election costs with the School District, in the case of a by election there is no cost sharing and the City will bear 100 percent of the by-election costs.

Capital and Special Projects

ALC Remediation Order is estimated at $123,000. Per the December 6, 2018 report to Mayor and Council the estimated cost for the removal of asphalt, curbing, lighting and imported material and the remediation overseen by a qualified environmental professional is roughly $123,000.

Reserve contributions fire hall replacement reserve contribution, estimated at $500,000 annually
The current balance in the Fire hall reserve is $2,353.

“With the work that is being performed to find a suitable replacement for the current fire hall, it is prudent to start taking steps to fund the replacement of the building to reduce the City’s reliance on debt when the project comes to fruition,” Langenmaier said in the report.

Powell River Recreation Complex renovations, estimated at $72,247

The City is working on a grant application to provide funding for renovations at the complex.

“The total cost and scope of the work is not yet determined as it is contingent on successful grant applications,” ,” Langenmaier said in the report. “The funding for the City’s portion of the grant is coming from reserves which will need to be replenished.”

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