The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is proposing collecting 3.2 per cent more taxes in 2019 than they did in 2018 (for a total of $24,909,001) while the total budget is increasing from $48.3 to $48.9 million. Higher property assessments may mean that for some items residents may be paying more even if the rate/$100,000 went down. The 2019 tax rates are still approximate as the CRD hasn’t received the final assessment values from the province yet.
Some of the notable increases include increased taxation for emergency planning, solid waste management, invasive plant management and bylaw enforcement.
Solid waste management services
For Solid Waste Management, there’s a 4.5 per cent increase from 2018 (from $1,037,380 in 2018 to $1,084,062 in 2019), with a rate of approximately $53 per $100,000.
“The Solid Waste Management Services have higher costs in 2019 due to increased operating costs of landfills and recycling programs and to manage wood waste following the 2017 and 2018 wildfires. We have applied for Canadian Red Cross funding to help cover our wood waste management costs.”
Invasive plant strategy
The tax rate for invasive plant management is increasing from $2.21 per $100,000 to $2.58, which along with property tax changes is expected to bring the total funds from $192,258 in 2018 to $240,323 in 2019.
“For the past three years, the CRD’s Invasive Plant Management Service had a contract with the Invasive Species Council of BC to provide public education and awareness about invasive species, but the funding that supported this contract has ended. This program has been very successful in the amount of people it has reached and additional invasive species education dollars it has leveraged within the region. To continue these prevention efforts, there needs to be an increase in the budget for this service.”
Bylaw enforcement will see one of the most substantial increases with a budget of $113,299 in 2018 being raised to an expected $169,949 (a 50 per cent increase), with the tax rate increasing from $1.61 per $100,000 to $2.26.
That increase represents a partial return to closer to the 2016 tax requisition after staffing issues lead the budget to be cut in half in 2017 to $103,000 from $206,000.
“A number of years ago, it was determined that the CRD would need two bylaw enforcement officers in order to satisfy the requirements of providing the service, which resulted in a significant increase in taxes. A second officer was hired, and then left, as did the initial officer, who was replaced by a new bylaw enforcement officer who is currently covering all requirements by himself. As such, the service had acquired a significant operating surplus of funds.”
The 2017 five year financial plan included a series of annual 10 per cent increases to re-establish a tax requisition amount sufficient to fund service provision costs as currently provisioned, according to the CRD.
“The tax requisition was increased by 10pe cent for 2018. For 2019, rather than continuing with the 10 per cent increases, staff decided to have a 50 per cent increase in 2019, and only small inflationary increases for the balance of the five year financial plan. The tax requisition for 2019 is $169,949 which is still substantially below the $206,000 taxed in 2016. It is expected that the tax requisition for this service will increase by approximately 2 – 2.5 per cent annually over the next few years.”
The CRD is also looking for approximately $90,000 more for library services (from $2,268,142 in 2018 to $2,358,867 in 2019).
“The tax requisition increase for Library Services of about 4 per cent is required, in part, to cover labour costs (increased salary, wages and benefits) arising from wage rate increases and the implementation of payroll taxes for BC Medical Services plan. The increasing costs of materials, programs and building maintenance are also contributing to the tax increase.”
Dedicated emergency operations centre
“Taxes for the Emergency Planning Service are increasing because the CRD needs a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre. This budget also addresses costs for an updated Emergency Management and Recovery Plan for 2019, annual Emergency Operations Centre training to keep staff up-to-date and improvements to emergency preparedness resources.”
The tax increase is from $1.12 per $100,000 to $1.16. That may seem relatively minor, but it’s important to keep in mind that property values increased substantially.
Local fire departments are expected to see a small increase in budgets, while most search and rescue budgets will stay the same.
“The cost of providing first responder and firefighting services is increasing dramatically, and, the costs are expected to continue to climb in the short to mid-term. Most departments are facing major firefighting apparatus replacements. The costs encountered to comply with existing and new regulations are further stressing VFD budgets. In addition, recent facility condition studies for our fire halls indicate that increased spending will be needed to maintain sufficient infrastructure for current service delivery levels.”
One of the most substantial increases is for the 150 Mile House Fire Department, where the budget is set to go from $184,638 to $230,798. Property owners will be expected to pay $80.05 per $100,000 of assessed value in 2019 compared to $67.81 in 2018.
Increased costs in the 150 Mile Fire Protection Service are needed to maintain the level of service provided by the volunteer fire department. The increase will help cover hall upgrades, fire protection equipment and training ground improvements.
There will be a meeting for that budget at the 150 Mile Community Hall at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13.
Substantial sewer rate increases are expected in Alexis Creek and Red Bluff. In Alexis Creek, the rate is going from $94 per user to approximately $113 per user. In Red Bluff, it will be from $177 per user to approximately $222 per user.
“The Alexis Creek and Red Bluff Sewer Services are both seeing user fee increases as operating costs go up. New WorkSafe regulations require additional staff for the sewer and water systems and are making all CRD utility operations more expensive. The Alexis Creek Sewer has also not seen a user fee increase since 1999.”
The CRD is also conducting a survey on the budget, asking residents in what areas they would like the CRD to increase, maintain or decrease service levels. The survey can be completed at surveymonkey.com/r/CRD2019BUDGET.