by Andru McCracken
If you’re wondering about where the taxes you pay to the Regional District actually go, you can track every penny. That’s according to Dannielle Alan, the Regional District Representative for Canoe Robson Valley.
Alan said unlike a municipality, where collected taxes are pooled into general revenue, every Regional District service has a tax associated with it, so homeowners can see where every penny goes.
“It gives [residents] a view of what things actually cost,” said Alan. “This is what we are paying and this is why.”
If you are in McBride, you may want to know. The share of taxes you pay to the Regional District is increasing by 3.4%.
The Regional District just released their operating budget for 2018 and the accompanying five year financial plan.
On average, property owners throughout the valley will be saving a small amount of money on taxes paid to the Regional District this year, save for McBride where taxes will increase by 3.4%. On a home assessed at $100,000, a homeowner will pay $427.74. That is up $14.85.
In Valemount, homeowners will pay the Regional District $293.17 per $100,000, down $16.80.
Residents living in the Robson and Canoe Valley rural areas will pay $135.91 per $100,000 of assessed value, down $4.47.
A press release from the Regional District warns that you may see your taxes rise or fall depending on the assessed value of your home. If BC Assessment deems your house has increased in value relative to your neighbours’ you could see an increase.
Alan said her abiding concern when deciding the budget is value for money.
“Are we getting value for every penny? Can we make capital improvements that reduce ongoing operating costs?” she asks.
She gave the valleys recreation centres as an example: by upgrading their heat exchange systems, they can reduce the cost of electricity.
“When Hydro increases their rates by 3 or 5 percent it has a huge effect,” she said.
And the recreation centres take a fair bit of cash to operate annually.
McBride’s Robson Valley Recreation Centre will require $337,080 of taxpayer money in a budget of $777,400.
Valemount’s Canoe Valley Recreation Centre will use $373,460 in taxes in a budget of $632,910.
A separate line item in the budget for Area H Arenas will require an additional $424,550 from taxpayers.
The total combined budgets for the three entities is $1,843,570.
Alan said that some of the services they provide save homeowners money year over year.
“The Fire Department actually saves people on their insurance,” she said.
Alan said downloading of responsibilities – in other words, taking on responsibilities that should be taken care of by other levels of government – is a concern. Highway rescue, she gives as an example, is something that should be funded by the Province.
“It’s not fair for small communities to be on the hook for these enormous costs,” she said.
She said municipalities are banding together to try to get provincial funding for that service, a fight that has been ongoing since 2000.
“We have seen an acknowledgement that things are not fair,” said Alan.
If you’ve got questions about your taxes, Alan said she can help.
“That’s why I am here,” she says. “They don’t have to go to Prince George. They can give me a call if they have specific questions.”