Board votes to raise rec facility tax limit

John Gleeson/Staff Writer / Staff writer
March 14, 2014 01:00 AM

The Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) board has voted to raise the taxation limit for recreation facilities by almost $1.4 million, but only about $200,000 of that will be tapped for the 2014 budget, treasurer Tina Perreault said Tuesday.

The requisition limit increase has been approved by Gibsons and Sechelt councils, but is still awaiting approval by the Sechelt Indian Government District (SIGD).

The SCRD board gave third reading to an amended bylaw on Feb. 27 after the province flagged an earlier bylaw because it contained two different amounts.

Perreault said the province requested a new bylaw with the dollar amount equaling the rate for every $1,000 of net taxable value, although the bylaw's wording specified the greater amount would apply.

"The Ministry said parts A and B have to equal each other," she said. "The reason is so that it's transparent to the public."

Under the amended bylaw, the dollar amount will rise to just over $7 million, but the relevant figure is the increase from 92 cents to $1.15 per thousand of net taxable value, an actual increase of 21 per cent after assessment changes are factored in, Perreault said.

Perreault said the SCRD has historically used the rate per thousand, but the bylaw includes a dollar amount as well to provide "a floor," in case assessments were to "really tank."

"If our assessments drop by 10 per cent, at least we know we have a $7-million baseline," she said.

"It is complex and confusing, but ultimately the $1.4 million hasn't changed," CAO John France told the board. "We are still only asking for the 1.4."

France has said the SCRD will need about $750,000 each year for the next five years to handle the capital maintenance deficit for its four recreation facilities.

The original motion to increase the ceiling by 25 per cent met with strong opposition from West Howe Sound director Lee Turnbull and Elphinstone director Lorne Lewis on Feb. 20, when both voted against giving it three readings.

"From my point of view, there has not been consultation with respect to this in my community," Turnbull said. "I remain opposed. I will not sign this."

"I will oppose this on every vote," Lewis vowed.

Lewis had earlier set five per cent as the maximum increase he could support, and he stuck to his guns.

"I certainly don't see going to 10 so I'll stay with five," he said.

Perreault said a five per cent increase would generate $281,540 "based on how the assessments stand."

On Feb. 27, Turnbull was not present for the vote on the amended motion, but Lewis again voted against it at second and third reading.

Pending SIGD approval, the bylaw will come back to the board for final consideration later this month.

Directors, meanwhile, were expected to deliberate on the last remaining round-three budget items on March 13.

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