Trail council must adopt its 2017 budget this spring, the deadline being May 15. At this point, Trail taxpayers can expect a $71 increase over 2016 property taxes. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Numbers are in for Trail taxpayers

The average homeowner can expect a 6 per cent tax increase, or $71 in property taxes this year.

Numbers are in for Trail taxpayers.

With the proposed 2017 budget now public, and awaiting three readings plus adoption before May 15 – the average homeowner can expect a 6 per cent tax increase, or $71.

That amount maintains a $260 flat tax introduced by council last year, “to ensure fair and equitable distribution of base level of service costs across the rate class.”

Many may be wondering how a six per cent increase compares to outlying municipalities.

While it’s early to say exactly what will happen in other cities for 2017, past years reflect that Trail taxes are comparatively on the lower end.

Chief Administrative Officer, David Perehudoff, provided an overview during the April 10 council meeting. Using figures provided by the province, he compiled a list of all taxes and charges in Trail, Nelson and Castlegar over six years, beginning in 2011.

According to his chart, Nelson historically paid the highest property taxes, followed by Castlegar, and Trail, a distant third.

For example, between 2015 and 2016, Trail property taxes increased $38 to $2,855 for the average residence, or about 1.4 per cent. In the same time frame, Castlegar’s tax levy increased $197, or 6.8 per cent, to just over $3,000. In Nelson, the percentage sat just above 2 per cent, or $95, which had average homeowners paying $4,277.

With so many capital projects underway in Trail, the 2017 capital budget topples $20 million, council began its review process last summer, with early budget projections. In August, they considered added costs related to the Riverfront Centre, the city’s operational inflation, and a $100,000 increase for police services.

At that point, council’s directive sat near a five per cent tax increase.

Following the sale of the Trail Smoke Eaters franchise last fall and a renewed vision for the Trail Memorial Centre, council agreed to fund $145,000 toward related upgrades, thereby upping 2017 property taxes closer to six per cent.

Other key capital projects in the works include $8.4 million for the library/museum; $4.2 million for a new airport terminal building; $2 million for landscape and approaches to the Columbia River Skywalk; $1.2 million in water treatment upgrades; and approximately $1 million combined for sewer repairs, work at the aquatic centre, and heavy equipment upgrades.

In his budget summary, Perehudoff defined the municipal budget as “a strategic plan of operations expressed in monetary terms.” In other words, the budget integrates council’s strategic plan and priorities with funding for those respective objectives.

Esplanade development, ongoing construction of the Riverfront Centre, major infrastructure projects and boosting tourism are currently on council’s radar. Next year, the group will likely direct an in depth review of core services and much further down the line, a review for demolition of the Old Trail Bridge.

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