Nakusp council, July 11: Municipal taxes lower than average

·4 min read

Residents of Nakusp are paying a little below the average in taxes for the services they receive, says a report from staff.

After councillors inquired at the June meeting how a local property owner’s tax burden compares to other communities, staff did some digging. And the numbers show that comparatively, Nakusp residents pay competitive rates.

“The Village taxes are comparable to the average municipality in the region, but are approximately 25% lower than the average municipality across BC,” the report says.

The stats show that in direct municipal taxes, Nakuspians pay $979. Other municipalities in the RDCK have an average $1,025 bill, while in BC, the average is $1,669. That puts Nakusp the 128th lowest-taxed community out of 161 in the province.

When all other tax requisitions are counted (school, fire, police, etc.), the number jumps a little higher. Nakuspians pay $2,294 annually, compared to $3,067 across BC, setting the Village in 112th spot overall.

The report notes that it’s not always straightforward to compare communities.

“It is important to note that while municipalities have a lot of similarities in the ways that they operate, they also have unique differences,” the report says, including the services they provide and how they are paid for – many functions of local government in Nakusp are being provided by the RDCK, for instance.

Parcel taxes coming?

The tax comparison report also hints that a new tax may be coming to Nakusp.

Currently, the Village has no ‘parcel’ taxes on its water and sewer systems. A parcel tax charges each property in the village a flat rate per foot of frontage. They’re often used in other towns to pay for water and sewer capital infrastructure construction or improvements.

“Currently the Village recovers these costs through user rates, however, with the completion of the Village’s asset management plan, it has been determined that there is a shortfall in the amounts currently being put aside in reserves,” the report notes. “Staff is investigating the feasibility of implementing a frontage tax to fund water/sewer capital infrastructure, while having user rates cover operating costs, which is a common practice.”

While that would result in an increase in taxes, it would also mean a decrease in water/sewer user rates.

A full report will be coming to council in the future outlining the benefits/drawbacks to switching to this type of funding model.

Council received the report as information.

Water use drops

While a lot depends on the weather, stats collected by the public works staff show that upgrades to the water system and conservation campaigns seem to be working to cut water use.

Statistics show Nakusp residents used a little over 73,500 cubic metres of water in May 2019. This year, it used 39,300 cubic metres.

June 2022 saw residents use 39,000 cubic metres, down from 94,000 in 2019.

However, the biggest driver of water use continues to be temperature.

“It is noted that the total water consumption follows average summer temperatures except for the COVID-19 pandemic years of 2019 and 2020, both cooler years on average but with much higher total consumption,” says a staff report.

Hot years like 2017, 2018 and 2021 saw higher water use, while this spring was very cool and wet.

Still, the report says water use has reduced generally and slightly year to year. “Consumer habits and leak fixes are likely both leading to this trend,” the report says.

Hot springs, cool cash

The Village-owned hot springs continue to recover from the pandemic.

Revenue stats show the facility made over $111,000 in May 2022, compared to $14,000 the same month last year, when the facility was closed for all but a week. June saw the pool/campground facility earn over $123,000, compared to $77,000 same month last year.

The facility was closed for both months in 2020 because of COVID-19.

More than 5,200 people went for a soak at the hot springs in June this year, and more than 700 people camped there overnight.

Procedures Bylaw amended

Council gave first three readings to a revised procedures bylaw, which sets the rules for calling council meetings, setting agendas, passing bylaws, etc.

The bylaw will be formally adopted by September, so that the newly elected council after this October’s municipal vote can have fresh rules to abide by.

The current bylaw is 20 years old, and staff reviewed it to clean up inconsistencies and weak legal writing.

“This bylaw helps facilitate transparency and accountability to the public,” says a staff report. “A well-written and followed Council Procedure Bylaw helps protect the local government from having decisions overturned due to procedural issues.”

John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

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