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Talking taxes in Rossland: Moving on up

The city will likely hike Rossland homeowners’ taxes by seven per cent, the amount needed to pay for the Columbia-Washington project.

Taxpayers will be paying $114 more on their municipal property taxes this year.

The city is prepared to hike Rossland homeowners’ taxes by seven per cent, the amount needed to pay for the city’s debt incurred in the Columbia-Washington project.

Although the city has not increased taxes since 2009, it will have to do it this year, despite stripping the budget in a line-item by line-item process for the last four months.

City council went through the operating budget, the capital budget, grants in lieu, grants in aid and every line item in between and trimmed thousands of dollars on each.

The city has not lost any major services, said Mayor Greg Granstrom, but everything will be running even leaner in 2014.

“We have been able to hold the line well … but now we are at a point where there are no more efficiencies to be found unless we cut services,” he said.

“We went through with a fine-toothed comb and realizing that we provide services and other amenities that the people of Rossland have come to enjoy and we have to balance that, maintaining those services with any tax increase or decrease.”

The city had to deal with rising costs of fuel, labour, purchasing, gas and electricity, but has managed to absorb those costs with the budget-trimming process.

As a result, the draft plan has been revised numerous times, and the 2014-18 version is now set for public approval on Wednesday, April 2.

With the average Rossland house assessed by the province at $255,000, the initial municipal portion of the tax bill for Rosslanders will be $1,630.

The 2014 property tax role for the city is expected to be $3.6 million, including a $33,345 non-market changes addition (from BC Assessment figures).

But to help pay the cost of the city’s main infrastructure upgrade—an additional $241,320 will be required from Rosslanders to help pay for the Columbia-Washington project upgrade—an increase was needed to bump the role up to $3.85 million.

As the budget requirements now stand, homeowners in the city would have to pay around $1,739 in property taxes (assessed on the BC Assessment average home value in the city of $255,000)—a $114 increase.

With an increase of seven per cent, it would inject $252,831 into city coffers. It would give the city $11,511 in additional revenue over and above the debt payment.

But the municipal portion is not the sum total of Rosslander’s taxes. The city also collects for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District, School District 20 (Kootenay Columbia), Interior Health Authority, B.C. Assessment, RCMP and the Municipal Finance Authority.

“We have no control over anyone else,” said city accountant Lois Hunter. “They tell us what to collect and we simply collect it for them.”

In residential, an average home was taxed in 2013 at an overall amount of $3,055. Of that amount, just over half was for municipal taxes, or $1,628.