Grand Forks City Hall. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
An updated draft budget will be put to the public at a special council meeting next month. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Grand Forks City Hall. Photo: Laurie Tritschler An updated draft budget will be put to the public at a special council meeting next month. Photo: Laurie Tritschler

Grand Forks council reviews draft 2022 budget

Draft outlines strategies to balance the budget, including a possible property tax increase

City council has reviewed a draft budget for the coming fiscal year.

The draft, which came before council on Monday, Jan. 24, forms the basis of fiscal considerations between now and mid-April, when council approves a final budget.

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The draft recommends that council consider seven strategies to arrive at a balanced budget, including an unspecified “moderate increase in property taxes.” Speaking to The Gazette on Tuesday, Mayor Brian Taylor emphasised that he and council haven’t approved any tax increases, adding “We’ve yet to determine what ‘moderate’ would mean.”

Taylor said it was too early to anticipate what any change to property taxes might look like for city families. Council can’t set tax rates until it receives final numbers from BC Assessments, the non-government body that estimates property values based on local real estate sales and area development.

City councils use BC Assessments’ final numbers as they determine upcoming tax rates per $1,000 in assessed property value.

An updated draft, including this so-called “mill rate,” will be up for public consultation at a special council meeting Thursday, Feb. 17, council heard Monday.

Redfearn stressed that assessed property values, which shot up by 33 per cent in Grand Forks based on preliminary findings in BC Assessment’s last annual report, don’t determine property taxes — municipal councils do. City budgets and, in turn, property taxes are based on revenue needed to fund city operations and, ideally, to square away some money for capital reserves, minus expenses.

It is tempting to instead focus on the mill rate, which is largely based on assessed property values, Redfearn continued. While assessed property values have gone up sharply, property taxes, if they do go up in the final budget, would rise only slightly, given that the mill rate is expected to drop considerably. The “moderate” property increase now under consideration is ranked fourth in terms of priority, with the draft budget suggesting that council draw on COVID-19 Safe Restart funding and gas tax proceeds before upping taxes.


 

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laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

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