The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) will see an overall 3.1 per cent increase in property taxes in 2013, but changes in assessment mean some areas will feel the hit more than others.
The SCRD’s 2013 budget raises taxes in four of the five regional areas — Elphinstone (Area E) by 4.4 per cent, Pender Harbour/Egmont (Area A) by 3.3 per cent, Halfmoon Bay (Area B) by 2.7 per cent, and West Howe Sound (Area F) by 2.2 per cent — while taxes in Roberts Creek (Area D) will decrease by about one-quarter of one per cent.
The budget is still subject to SCRD board approval and final assessment numbers to be released March 28.
Taxation has also gone up for the two municipalities and Sechelt Indian Gov-ernment District (SIGD), but treasurer Tina Perreault noted the actual percentage increase in property taxes is much lower in those jurisdictions.
For the Town of Gibsons, SCRD taxation rose by 5.9 per cent, but that amount represents only 23 per cent of the Town of Gibsons tax bill, based on 2012 rates.
“Therefore, the 5.91 per cent increase translates into an approximate 1.36 per cent increase to a Town of Gibsons taxpayer,” Perreault said.
Likewise, the 4.8 per cent increase for the District of Sechelt, representing 22 per cent of the Sechelt tax bill, means an actual increase of just over one per cent.
For SIGD, the 1.3 per cent increase, representing 26 per cent of the tax bill, means an actual increase of about one-third of one per cent.
Assessment changes played a major part in the final breakdown, Perreault said.
While the tax increase for District of Sechelt will raise $110,000 more than last year, just over $45,000 of that total is due to reassessment.
“What this means is if the SCRD didn’t raise $1 more in tax from 2012, the District of Sechelt share would have been higher by $45,307, solely based on assessment impacts,” Perreault said. “The transverse is true for Roberts Creek, which saw overall assessments go down by 3.76 per cent, and would have seen a reduction of tax by $29,000 if no new dollars were added to the budget.”
After round three, the 2013 operating budget was $29.86 million and the capital budget came in at $12.57 million, for a combined total of $42.43 million — $1.43 million below last year’s total budget of $43.86 million.
“I think that’s holding the line,” said SCRD board chair Garry Nohr, who added that this year’s budget was “one of the scariest going in” but ended with him “coming out feeling relaxed.”
SCRD directors wrapped up the third round of budget deliberations on March 6. In their final cuts, they reduced $85,000 earmarked for ports down to $45,000 (deferring a float replacement project for Halfmoon Bay to 2014) and deferred one of two Chaster Creek shoreline mitigation projects to 2014, saving $35,000 this year.
The Dakota Ridge trail expansion and widening projects, budgeted at $32,000, were also deferred to next year, pending further consultation with user groups.
In recreation, the budget committee approved $45,000 to extend the hours of operation at the Gibsons and District Aquatic Centre, $30,000 to keep the Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre open during the month of July, and $20,000 for new gym equipment at the Pender pool.
Area directors also agreed to provide $5,000 from grant-in-aid funding to the Sunshine Coast Central Baseball League to cover a portion of the cost of fencing the field at Chatelech Secondary School, and $3,000 to the Sunshine Coast Trails Society.
In economic development, the committee approved $8,000 for the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce car-free tourism initiative, $20,000 for Sunshine Coast Tourism (up from $17,000 last year) and $15,000 for Hillside Industrial Park studies, to be funded from future land sales.
In the first budget round, directors endorsed the new strategic plan for Gibsons and District Volunteer Fire Department, which includes $71,000 to increase honorariums for officers and training rates for all members.
The Halfmoon Bay department’s $38,000 request for the purchase of a command vehicle was approved in round two, with most of the funds to be taken from surplus.
The committee also approved $14,000 from surplus to buy a used vehicle for the emergency planning coordinator.