The Cariboo Regional District board during a recent meeting. (Monica Lamb-Yorski - Black Press Media)

Cariboo Regional District proposes 4.5 per cent more taxes

Majority of the notable tax increases are for emergency services

The Cariboo Regional District (CRD) is proposing to collect 4.5 per cent more taxes than in 2019.

The majority of the notable tax increases are for emergency services, including Forest Grove Fire Protection, Lac la Hache Fire Protection, Ten Mile Lake Fire Protection, Central Cariboo Search and Rescue, Emergency Planning as well as McLeese Lake Recreation, Electoral Area Administration, General Administration and Governance.

“Creating a budget is a balancing act. As we review each service, we aim to provide a quality cost-effective service while working to maintain our infrastructure and keep our funding sustainable,” states CRD Chair Margo Wagner.

For 2020, the CRD’s budget is increasing from $48.9 million to $50.1 million, which is a 2.45 per cent increase.

“As we plan and finalize our budget, we want to hear from our residents about what they think of our service levels and the value they receive from their taxes,” Wagner adds.

Residents are asked to review the documents and provide feedback by March 11 but all feedback prior to final adoption on March 27 will be considered. To view the budget documents visit cariboord.ca/budget and email mailbox@cariboord.ca or call the chief financial officer at 250-392-3351. Paper copies will also be available at CRD offices and in the CRD Branch Libraries in 100 Mile House, Quesnel and Williams Lake.

The increases don’t neccesarily mean every CRD resident will be paying 4.5 per cent more taxes as most of them cover only a specific area and based either on the assessed value of your property or a flat rate per land parcel or user.

Forest Grove Fire Protection

The 2019 rate was $136.44 per $100,000 of assessed value which is proposed to increase to $140.69. The increase brings their total budget to $207,819, compared to an estimated $197,514 budgeted for 2019 plus$27,601 through parcel tax in both years.

“Taxes are going up in this service because equipment needs to be replaced. The additional revenue will be used to replace breathing equipment and personal protective gear for the members as well as additional member training and improvements in and around the two fire halls. The Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department also needs to replace two fire trucks soon.”

RELATED: CRD to replace 14 fire trucks before 2023

Lac la Hache Fire Protection

In Lac la Hache the proposed rate increase per $100,000 is from $68.14 to $81.77. The increase brings the total budget to $178,022, compared to an estimated $142,418 in 2019.

“The Lac La Hache Volunteer Fire Department must replace its primary fire engine in 2021 and borrowing will be required. This tax increase will provide money for the debt payments and maintain operations at the current level.”

Ten Mile Lake Fire Protection

Similar to the Forest Grove and Lac la Hache Fire Protection increases, the Ten Mile Lake Fire Protection increase from $90.27 to $107.13 per $100,000 is for equipment. The increase brings the total budget to $130,309, compared to an estimated $142,418 budgetted in 2019 plus $12,852 through parcel tax in both years.

”Ten Mile Lake VFD must replace its primary engine in 2021 and it does not have enough reserves to buy it without debt financing. The tax increase will provide the funds to service the debt without impacting operations.”

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue

The proposed increase is from $3.81 per $100,000 to $4.53. The increase brings the total budget to $192,473, compared to an estimated $153,979 budgetted for 2019.

“The Central Cariboo Search and Rescue service requires a tax increase in order to replace personal protective gear for the auto extrication members and enhance ongoing training so members can stay certified. Some additional equipment also needs to be replaced.”

Emergency Planning

For emergency planning, the proposed increase is from $1.16 per $100,000 to $1.64. The increase brings the total budget to $130,688, compared to an estimated $87,125 budgeted in 2019.

“To better prepare and respond to emergencies in the region, we are expanding our emergency planning budget. Specifically, legislation requires us to have an Emergency Management Plan for the region and we will be hiring a full-time staff position to ensure the emergency plan is up-to-date. They will also be responsible for coordinating our emergency program to make sure we are prepared to respond to emergencies. The tax increase will cover the salary of a full-time emergency planning position and the operational costs of maintaining a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre.”

McLeese Lake Recreation

The proposed increase is from $5.19 per $100,000 to $8.71.

“Taxes collected for this service go towards the upkeep and operation of the McLeese Lake Community Hall and ballfields. In 2019, certain issues were identified that require attention at the hall. The tax increase will help us build a reserve so the necessary hall repairs can be made once enough funds have been collected.”

Administration

The electoral area administration increase is from $24.15 per $100,000 to $26.12 bringing the budget to $2,083,596, compared to an estimated $1,811,823 budgetted for 2019 while for general administration the increase is from $5.85 to $6.35 bringing the budget to $767,875, compared to an estimated $667,717 budgetted in 2019.

“Since most administration expenses are split equally between these two budgets, they are both seeing a similar increase. Taxes are increasing mainly because of cost overruns in capital projects, some unforeseen and unbudgeted initiatives, a new staff person in the Williams Lake office, and increased payroll costs from the province’s Employer Health tax.”

For governance the increase is from $1.52 to $2.30 per $100,000 for a budget of $277,554, compared to an estimated $173,471 budgetted in 2019.

“An accounting change in the way costs are tracked is the main reason for the tax increase in this service. Directors’ pay also increased to compensate for the change in federal removal of the 1/3 tax exemption on directors’ expenses,” increasing the base pay from $875.48 per month to $953.


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

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2020 CRD budget breakdown. (CRD photos)

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