The latest village budget features a small rise in property taxes for Kaslo residents. File photo

The latest village budget features a small rise in property taxes for Kaslo residents. File photo

Kaslo’s draft budget with small tax increase gets initial approval

Property taxes will rise 5%

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

Homeowners in Kaslo will likely pay a little bit more for municipal services in 2022.

Council gave initial approval to the Village’s draft budget at a special meeting March 1.

Village CAO Ian Dunlop told council that the provincial funding the Village received for COVID-19 pandemic costs, along with infrastructure grants and a small operating surplus, has allowed them to propose a budget calling for a property tax increase of five per cent.

That increase is needed to raise the extra $39,000 in revenue the Village will need this year to balance the books.

What that means for the individual homeowner’s pocketbook depends on another factor – property assessments. The typical house value in Kaslo in 2021 was $315,466, and jumped to more than $409,000 when property assessments skyrocketed by over 29 per cent this year.

But that doesn’t mean taxes would go up by that amount. That’s because the hike in assessments was nearly matched by the drop in the Village’s mill rate, which is used to calculate taxes. It went down just over 21 per cent as a result, says Dunlop.

“The Village portion of tax on that house would have been $904 last year and will go up to around $960 this year,” said Dunlop. “So, taxes won’t go up by 29.77 per cent. The increase (or decrease) depends on how the value of an individual property gets assessed by BC Assessment.”

Mayor Suzan Hewat repeated that point in commenting on the fiscal plan.

“It’s going to be five per cent for the budget overall, but it’s not going to be a hike on everyone’s tax bill,” she said. “Our overall revenue may go up five per cent, but some people will realize drops on their tax bill, depending on their assessments. But I think we’re managing to do a lot with grants, so we don’t have to go to the taxpayer to do these things.”

Interestingly, commercial property values did not increase by the same amount as residential in Kaslo. The overall increase in commercial values was 15.53 per cent from 2021 to 2022, so many businesses will actually see their property tax decrease because the tax rate is going down, Dunlop says.

“Unfortunately, this will shift more of the tax burden to residential properties,” he noted to the Valley Voice.

The proposed budget includes several projects planned in 2021, but still awaiting funding in some cases. It also includes wrapping up some important projects from last year, including the new Front Street Park.

In total, the Village plans to spend about $3.7 million on operations and capital projects this year.

Increase to sewer rates

Property owners will also see a five per cent increase to their sewer rates this year. The money will go towards covering increasing operating costs. As well, the Village plans to set aside $61,000 from the water parcel tax and $13,000 from the sewer parcel tax revenues as reserve funds for future projects, like a planned expansion of the sewage treatment plant.

“We know that the current amounts going into reserve are on the low side,” says Dunlop. “The unpredictability of provincial and federal infrastructure grant funding means we have to be prepared to take on large projects with our own funds, as we are doing with the A Avenue water main project.”

However, the water parcel tax itself – which charges property owners $1.10 for each foot of frontage – will remain unchanged this year.

This won’t be the last crack at the budget council gets. Staff received feedback on the proposed budget, including suggestions on other projects that might be started using the COVID Restart funds, which wouldn’t affect taxes.

They’ll take those suggestions and incorporate what works into the budget; the next budget meeting will be in April.

The Village is also waiting for the Regional District of Central Kootenay and School District 8 to finalize their budgets and tax rates, for inclusion on the tax bills. Those bills should be in residents’ mailboxes in mid-May.