A judicious use of rainy-day funds by council will see taxes from the Village of Kaslo set at about a six per cent increase this year.
“Higher costs and inflation are putting pressure on everything, and our ability to deliver services,” said Village chief administrative officer Ian Dunlop. “But we can draw upon prior years’ surplus funds to help offset this year’s expenses.”
Village staff presented the draft 2023 budget to council at a special meeting on Feb. 22, telling the Village’s leadership that number could have been a lot higher.
“I was trying to keep the target tax rate at six per cent. That will mean we have to draw $71,000 from the surplus to raise enough operating revenue to have that,” he noted. “If we didn’t have that option, then we would be looking at about a 17.4 per cent tax increase because of all the pressures with wage increases and other costs associated.”
According to the draft budget, the Village in total is asking for about an extra $49,500 from taxpayers to finance operations this year on a budget of about $5.75 million.
The Village won’t be asking for an increase in the water parcel tax – the amount property owners pay for water service per foot of frontage. That will stay at $66 for the typical 15-metre village lot. The sewer parcel tax will also remain the same, also about $66 per average property. The Village is trying to build up reserves in both services in order to pay for much-needed repairs and replacements that are coming due.
The budget outlines several capital projects scheduled to start in 2023. Among the largest are the continuing Kaslo River Dike remediation project ($425,000), FireSmarting ($304,000) and arena upgrades ($147,000). Many of those projects are covered by grants from other levels of government.
The largest project is work planned on the historic Kemball building, which is turning out to be more expensive than expected.
“I have to consult on the priorities council has for that project,” said Dunlop, who pulled the item from the budget to do more planning work. “In consultation with the construction company … we have $1.7 million worth of stuff that needs to get done, but only $1.2 million in funding.
“So we need to prioritize what gets done,” he said. “We’ll have to come back and look at it more closely and have council consultation talks.”
Smaller projects planned for 2023 include replacing more streetlights with LEDs, upgrades to the City Hall and public works buildings, and finishing the A Avenue water main paving and Front Street Park project.
Council also approved spending up to $15,000 for an Active Transportation study, which could qualify the Village for big dollars for infrastructure improvements around town.
If they can get grant funding confirmed, the Village will also begin water treatment plant upgrades and buy a new electric truck for public works, he said. Work on the new library might also begin, should federal funding for the project be approved.
Tax bills in May
While the average house assessment is up about 21 per cent in Kaslo, the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value actually dropped about 11.9 per cent, Dunlop noted. Over the last four years, the Village tax rate has dropped about 41 per cent, mostly because of the increase in assessment values.
The Village gets about 84 per cent of its revenue from residential property taxes.
Council received the draft budget for information, and will revisit the document in a few weeks. The next Village budget meeting will have more refined numbers based on the decisions made by council and more information from staff. The 2023 budget will be passed within the larger five-year plan the Village is required by law to submit to the Province in May.
The Village’s proposed increase will only form part of residents’ tax bills, as the RDCK’s requisition (proposed to increase 9.35 per cent for Kaslo this year), the RCMP, school district, hospital board and others make up two-thirds of the total tax bill.