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Tax increase of more than eight per cent in the offing for Terrace property owners

Rate has been climbing for the past three years

Terrace property owners could be headed for tax increases of more than eight per cent indicates a thorough breakdown of operating expenses for next year provided to city council Dec. 1.

Mandatory expenses represent an increase of 7.19 per cent to raise $1.196 million while a super-tax of 1 per cent to replace aging infrastructure would raise another $166,000, documents prepared by city finance director Lori Greenlaw show.

The general tax hike of 7.19 per cent works out to $134.73 on a home of an assessed average value of $440,376 in 2022. An additional 1 per cent infrastructure replacement tax represents an increase of $18.74.

A good part of the general tax increase is it will help the city pay its new hires and provide wage increases, Greenlaw noted.

“The more significant increases to the budget in past years have been as a result of increases to service levels such as two new firefighters, one new RCMP member, one new bylaw compliance officer, a public works manager and an engineering technologist,” she wrote.

The wage agreement reached earlier this year with Canadian Union of Public Employees requires another $303,995, while wage increases for RCMP officers amount to $249,793.

Another $45,000 is needed for firefighter wage increases, while $102,842 is needed for a combined economic development officer/deputy city manager position and a part time office worker.

Greenlaw also included $523,729 in discretionary spending for council consideration, a sum that would require an additional 3.15 per cent tax hike.

Approximately half of that amount would come from wage increases for senior staffers who are not part of the city’s unionized workforce. An external review of salaries has been prepared for council consideration.

The tax hike projections are just for municipal spending. The city also collects taxes for other government functions like schools but those 2023 impacts are not yet known.

The proposed tax hikes for 2023 follow a 5.52 increase last year and one of 5.48 per cent in 2021.

But the seven years before that featured more modest hikes of between two and four per cent. In two of those years, there was no increase.

Crucial to the city’s functions is the one per cent infrastructure replacement which was introduced last year, Greenlaw said.

“A one per cent annual increase is required for over ten years to begin to bridge the gap in funding the replacement of our aging infrastructure,” she added.

One piece of encouraging news is the anticipated $100,000 to come from taxing new construction and new developments.

In addition to property tax increases, a three per cent increase in sewer fees means another $5.12 from the average residential taxpayer while a three per cent in water fees requires another $7.42.

Greenlaw did not require an immediate response from council as to what it wishes to do regarding spending and taxation. That’ll happen at a date not yet determined.

Council will consider recommendations from city staffers for next year’s capital expenditures on Dec. 14. Already on that list is a required sewer replacement along Graham Ave.

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