Telkwa sign. (File photo)

Telkwa sign. (File photo)

Telkwa property owners to see rise in taxes

Average homeowner will see their property bill go up by $103

If you’re a homeowner in Telkwa, get ready to see an increase in your property tax bill this year.

In passing first, second and third reading of the Telkwa Five-Year Financial Plan (2022-2026) council voted to increase the property tax levy by seven per cent.

In order to do so, the residential tax rate will actually decrease from 4.7 to 3.9 due to a significant increase in property tax assessments.

The residential assessment base increased by more than 26 per cent compared last year.

This means the average residential property owner will see an additional $103 on their tax bill.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to raise taxes a little,” said Deputy Mayor Derek Meerdink. “We are quite mindful of the residents, coming off a COVID year, but it was one of those things we had to do. You look at inflation…. we didn’t want [to raise taxes] but we had to.”

Sewer fees will not increase this year but water fees will be increased by two per cent, or $10.

Telkwa’s director of finance Rowena Atienza-Paquette said it is necessary to increase the taxes to be able to keep up with inflation.

“We have not implemented tax increases in 2020 and 2021,” she added.

She also compared the village’s taxes with other municipalities in her financial report. The average taxes paid by a single family dwelling came in at 79th out of 161 municipalities. This puts Telkwa’s average residential municipal taxes at the 49th percentile in BC in 2021.

Meerdink added residents seem to be understanding of the rise in taxes.

“What I have heard so far about the budget has been positive,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll hear some negative comments and that is fine. People can have a difference in opinions, but we are doing the best we can under the reality that we are living in.”

Just over $100,000 from the general surplus and COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant Reserve will be used to fund other operating expenses and lessen the impact on taxation.

This was the same approach used in the last two years to be able to set the tax revenue increase to zero per cent but the five year financial report said a blended approach will be used for sustainability.

“The Village is also affected by the current inflation rate and needs to take measures to ensure that we remain cautious, progressive and sustainable in our final approach,” it stated.

“We are using some of the COVID Reserve Funds to cover our budget deficit for 2022 due to revenue shortfall, operational requirements and increasing costs of commodities,” added Atienza-Paquette. “The increase in taxation is a necessary portion of the budget to ensure that the Village has a realistic and sustainable revenue stream to be able to continue to provide the same service levels.”

The Village has budgeted a total of $198,797 for operating expenditures and special projects. This includes funding for the Fire Department, Emergency Services, Business Liaison, Active Transportation Network Planning and other efforts in response to COVID-19.

“We anticipate to have $302,841 remaining in COVID-19 Reserve at the end of 2022,” she said.

The financial plan also says efforts to increase other revenues and lessen expenditures to alleviate the pressure on taxation have been implemented such as following up and monitoring grants for the village and other government remittances.

“We are getting capital works done and we are staying true to our strategic priorities and we’ve accomplished a lot,” added Meerdink.