Residents of the West Kootenay-Boundary won’t be paying more overall for improvements to local hospitals through their taxes this year – though some individual homeowners will see an increase.
Local politicians from the two regional districts approved the regional hospital 2022 tax request in late March, keeping the ask at the exact same level as last year.
“I think it went very smoothly,” says Suzan Hewat, Kaslo’s mayor and chair of the WKBRHD. “We’re in alignment with Interior Health on the priorities, that’s why there was no opposition to any of the items that were put forward to fund.
“All the projects that were put forward by Interior Health were definitely needed by the facilities that were getting the funding, both for major capital and under $100,000 capital items.”
The West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District board oversees and negotiates with Interior Health staff for funding for hospital equipment and capital projects. Projects and priorities are proposed each year with a list developed in consultation between local politicians and IH staff.
Health administrators are asking for roughly $20.7 million to fund construction projects, renovations and new equipment in the district next year – about $3.2 million less than last year. However, the portion to be paid directly by local taxpayers – $4.82 million – remains the same as last year.
An extra $1.8 million will also be collected to place into reserves.
“We generally like to put some into reserves, because that’s a lot cheaper for the taxpayer to use existing funds we have than it is to borrow,” says Hewat. “We get good rates, but rising interest rates will have an impact. So we want to be prepared in case some major capital item does come forward.”
The status quo request works out to a standard rate of about $22 for every $100,000 assessed value of a person’s home.
However, because of big increases to provincial property assessments this year, the amount some areas pay will be different from last year. Area D, for instance, will see an aggregate reduction of about $6,000 for the service, while residents of the Village of Slocan, which had the highest increase in assessments, will pay an additional $3,200 in total. Area K, around the Arrow Lakes, has the largest bump in the Valley Voice readership area with an $8,000 increase in total.
John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice