Taxes could rise $51 per year for five years to fund fire truck

A flat tax on parcels will be applicable to every parcel within the City of Grand Forks; those parcels would be levied a flat tax of $51.61.

Council is looking at a parcel tax for all Grand Forks property owners to help pay for the fire department’s new 30 metre fire ladder truck.

As per the Community Charter, a review panel must be formed. At a special meeting of council on April 19, council appointed three members of staff (Charlene Eurby, Patricia McKenzie and Roxanne Shepherd) to sit on the Fire Truck Tax Roll Review Panel and approved the date of May 10 at 10 a.m. at council chambers for the panel to meet.

At the same meeting, council also passed the first three readings of both the Fire Truck Parcel Tax Preparation Bylaw 2030 and Fire Truck Parcel Tax Imposition Bylaw 2031.

The backgrounder from the city said the flat tax on parcels will be applicable to every parcel within the city without an exemption and those parcels would be levied a flat tax of $51.61 annually from 2016 – 2020. Exempt properties would include provincial properties, schools and hospitals. There are a total of 2,897 parcels that will be taxed.

The review panel will hear complaints concerning the flat tax on parcels on grounds such as: there is an error or omission respecting a name or address on the tax roll; an error or omission respecting the inclusion of a parcel on the roll; an error or omission respecting the taxable rate for a parcel; or an exemption has been improperly allowed or disallowed.

A complaint must not be heard by the review panel unless written notice of complaint has been given to the city at least 48 hours prior.

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue received the truck, a 2015 Rosenbauer 101 foot (30 metre) Cobra platform fire truck, last summer. On Jan. 25 council resolved to finance the purchase through the Municipal Finance Authority’s Equipment Leasing Program for $722,518.58 over five years. The lease requires annual lease payments of $149,516.76 for five years. The revenue received from the flat (parcel) tax will be used to make the lease payments on the fire truck.

The full cost of the fire ladder truck is $1,072,518.58. The RDKB contributed $350,000.

The fire truck parcel tax is expected to be adopted at the May 9 regular council meeting.