Friday, May 3, 2019
Taxes, taxes, taxes
At their April 23rd council meeting Clearwater County Council discussed the up-coming tax rate bylaw at length. The following are noted highlights of information with quotes from the agenda package:
· “This bylaw is prepared using assessment from the 2018 year.” The assessed value of the property in question is then multiplied by the tax rate that the council sets to give you the amount of municipal taxes you pay.
· The “kicker” this year is the school requisition, a separate tax category that is part of your overall tax bill. Due to the interference of the recent election, the county has experienced “a delay in presenting the prepared tax rate bylaw to Council for the 2019 year, due to the province not delivering a statement of intent for the provincial school requisition for 2019.”
· “Staff has gone ahead and calculated the school requisition estimate based on the 2017 equalized assessment numbers and kept the rate steady from the 2018 requisition.” (Note: The province uses the last 2 years of information to establish their tax requisition.)
· “Clearwater County’s equalized assessment has increased significantly, especially in the non-residential category, and as such there will be an increase in the provincial school requisition.
Even a 0 percent increase in the municipal portion will translate into an increase in the dollars paid by the ratepayer for 2019. Using the estimated numbers, the residential &farm ratepayers are seeing a 5.41% increase in the school requisition rate while the non-residential ratepayers are seeing a 13.8$ increase in their school requisition rate. This equates to $13.83 per $100,000 of residential assessment and $47.72 per $100,000 of non-residential assessment for school requisitions alone.”
· “For the municipal portion of the tax bill, because of a decrease in taxable assessment in Clearwater County, a 0% increase in the municipal tax rate would leave the County in a deficit position of $434, 331. A 1% overall tax rate increase would leave the County in a surplus position of $35, 826.
The question arises---Should an increase in municipal taxes even be considered when the taxpayers will already be facing an “unbargainable” increase in education taxes???
A list of changes to the accumulated surpluses was presented to council as well. Some of the extra monies resulted from projects that were not completed in 2018 but will be in 2019. Others came as a result of cost savings on projects and some projects being deferred.
Consequently, as of December 31, 2018, there is an Unrestricted Surplus of $1, 115, 104 and a Total Restricted Surplus of
$95, 284, 283. “Unrestricted” means for unspecified use while “restricted” is designated for specific categories. Notable restricted surplus categories include:
· **** Tax Rate Stabilization---- $12, 000,000. (Taking out the potential $434, 331 deficit to be incurred by a 0% increase in a tax rate for this year would still leave a significant balance in this category.)
· Broadband--- $8,900,000
· Fire (Capital)--- $7, 058,411
· Public works (Capital)--- $6, 502, 995
· Public works (paving, gravel, resource roads combined) $23, 702, 599
· Sewer $8, 821, 055
· Bridge deficit $8, 413, 577
These are just the most notable categories often commented on by county residents. There is still about $20,000,000 in the restricted surplus for numerous other categories.
With this much money in SURPLUS (the “rainy day fund”), is there any need for an increase in municipal taxes??? It is interesting to note that from December 2017 to December 2018 there was an increase in the total restricted surplus of $13, 603, 918 or 16.66%. How many businesses/taxpayers in Clearwater County saw an increase of 16% in their surpluses (if they even had one) last year???
We’ve been contributing and contributing for years to create these surpluses “in case of tough times”. Now if we take out $434,331 from the tax rate stabilization surplus a balance of $11, 565, 669 will be left. This would allow for other withdrawals of $500,000 for another 23 years. I think we’ll be OK with a O% tax rate increase on municipal taxes this year.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular monthly meeting
Tuesday, June 18, 2019, 7:30PM, Arbutus Community Hall, Regular monthly meeting.