Trail homeowners will be subject to a $260 flat tax for a second straight year.
Combined with an overall six per cent increase, the average Trail household will see a $66 hike on their property tax bill when it arrives via mail in May.
Council doubled the flat tax in 2016 as a means to levelling the field for all property owners. Last year, there was a wide disparity in the BC Assessment role, which would have drastically increased property tax for some while greatly reducing the annual bill for others.
Trail Mayor Mike Martin says council considered various apportionment options before deciding to maintain the flat tax as status quo during last week’s governance meeting.
“The same approach as last year provided the least impact not only for residents but also the business property tax rate.” Martin explained. “Assessment changes were much more stable in 2017 but council is still faced with a significant variance in assessments within the residential class and how best to apportion taxes so it is fair and equitable.”
The flat tax was maintained to ensure a fair distribution of the portion of city taxes apportioned to Class 1 Residential, he clarified.
“The flat tax ensures that there is a base payment made by all residential properties, which is akin to the water, sewer and garbage flat user rates.”
Revenue generated from flat taxes comes in just under 25 per cent of the net levy for the residential class.
Of the remaining taxes for homeowners, 75 per cent is based on assessments and respective of the current system where higher valued properties pay more and experience a higher corresponding tax increase, Martin added.
“The net increase is effectively “smoothed” out over the class by maintaining the flat tax at the current level as opposed to reducing it.”
At present, property taxes are slated to increase 5.6 per cent, with one per cent allocated specifically towards capital funding enhancements.
“The final levy has not been approved and will be reviewed again before the bylaws are advanced,” Martin said. “At this point, issues with snow removal costs are a concern and council will need to consider the financial exposure in this area as part of determining the final city property tax levy for 2017.”
Martin says the budget review and approval process continues to be challenging in terms of providing funding to protect core services and to deal with many of the enhancements currently underway.
“Council has to balance the needs of the city with what is reasonable in terms of the increase in the property tax levy,” he added.
“At this time, an average residential home valued at $178,300 will see an approximate increase in city taxes of $66, and when considering the scope of existing and new services that are being provided, this was felt to be reasonable.”
The budget does not include any reductions in service levels, though council had to deal with ongoing inflationary increases which the city does not directly control, such as policing costs.
“Beyond this, the budget does include provisions to start phasing in costs for the Riverfront Centre and this includes the first capital debt repayments,” Martin concluded. “Council is phasing in the increases related to the Riverfront Centre operation over two years and property taxes will be increased further in 2018 once the facility is fully up and running.”