3% tax hike for Lake Cowichan residents

Lake Cowichan council okayed a $7,207,322 budget for 2015, the first year of a five-year plan, which includes a three per cent tax increase for homeowners.

It’s more than a million dollars more than next year’s budget, mainly because of the big capital expenditures this year for projects like the sewage treatment system upgrade.

And that overall figure includes the nearly $2.2 million that Lake Cowichan collects for other governments.

When it came to tax rates, residential properties will pay three per cent more in 2015 with a rate set at $4.3 per $1,000 of assessed value, which means a homeowner with a house worth $150,000 will pay $675 while someone with a house valued at $250,000 will pay $1,125 in taxes.

Business will pay $11.18 per thousand of assessed value.

At the other end of the payment scale is Lake Cowichan’s small amount of industrial land where owners must pay $76.75 per thousand.

The town itself gets almost half (41.7 per cent) of its $4.6 million in general revenue from property taxes with that sector contributing $1.925 million.

The rest comes from a combination of user fees and charges, the campsite and educational centre’s revenues, government grants and transfers from reserves plus about $90,000 from other sources.

However, the revenue does not include all the money the town collects for other governments, fire services for the CVRD, police and library levies and transfers

from surplus and debts, the report to council said.

However, the Community Charter requires that the town have a five-year financial plan and include objectives and policies regarding funding sources, distribution of property tax rates and permissive tax exemptions.

Property tax revenue is determined according to the operating and capital needs of the general fund while user fees and charges for water, sewer and garbage collection are used to finance those services.

The Town of Lake Cowichan plans to attempt to increase the number of government grants it received to complete infrastructure capital projects and where feasible user fees will be levied for measurable services.

To this end, council has already brought in water metering and has said that it wants to substitute user fees and charges and grants in place of taxation where possible.

A sewer parcel tax was implemented in 2010 and increased in 2013 to $100 per parcel. A $100 parcel tax for water was implemented in 2013. Both are aimed at offsetting the costs of upgrading sewer and water infrastructure.

However, the Town of Lake Cowichan will continue to provide tax exemptions to charitable non-profit organizations and places of public worship but will also ensure that these exemptions are periodically reviewed while a revitalization tax exemption program will strive to encourage commercial investment and expand employment opportunities.