After some heated debate and some long meetings, Parksville city council has officially adopted a 2015 budget and tax rate increase.
At a special meeting April 24, council set the residential property tax increase at 1.5 per cent. For a home with the average assessed property value of $296,500, the city portion of total property taxes will increase by $15.70. The library, Nanaimo Regional District, regional wastewater and regional hospital charges will increase by $32.27. The school tax change is not released by the province at this time, but the estimated property taxes for that average house (using an estimate for the school tax) are $2,660.
While this may change during next year’s debates, the tax increase for subsequent years is expected to be two per cent for the year 2016 and 2.5 per cent for each of the years 2017-2019. In a news release the city said this year’s increase of 1.5 per cent is the lowest in many years and is “the result of continued prudent and responsible fiscal management.”
“Our goal is to keep property taxes as low as possible while delivering good value for money and support the city’s priorities,” said Mayor Marc Lefebvre. “While reviewing the budget, council was mindful that a borrowing referendum for the Englishman River Water Service project will take place later this year. Depending on the level of funding announced this October, plans are in place to minimize the financial impact on residential taxpayers including a scaled back water treatment plant.”
“This is a fiscally responsible budget which takes external factors as well as future needs into consideration,” said city CAO Fred Manson. “The city continues to provide quality services to residents as effectively and efficiently as possible.”
The general fund budget of $27,339,740 includes capital expenditures of $11,083,370. Major capital projects in 2015 include the second phase Temple Street upgrades, Community Park and Kin Hut washrooms, Corfield Avenue’s Stanford to 19A road project and Ermineskin Road and Banks Avenue water main and road repairs.
The city says budget surpluses put the city in a good position to deal with an unforeseen contingency should it arise.
A number of budget deliberation meetings were held in February, March and April and public input was encouraged in person and through a number of online opportunities.
“Each year, the city’s budgeting process becomes more challenging,” said a city news release. “We face external pressures such as increasing expectations, legislative impacts by senior levels of government, rising costs and a fluctuating business climate. The 2015 budget balances these challenges while continuing to deliver good value for money and also provide quality services for the citizens of Parksville.”