Despite concerns that a large increase during a pandemic is not appropriate, Lake Country is looking at hiking taxes 6.12 per cent for 2022.
The district hosts a special budget meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. for second and third reading of the financial plan.
Many residents, who provided feedback through a variety of avenues, including a virtual town hall, have spoken out saying the increase is too steep for those who are recovering, and still impacted, by the effects of the pandemic.
A large number of residents also want to see the budget focus of improving roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic calming.
The proposed increase represents approximately $115 more for the average single-family home valued at $993,000 for 2022 ($760,000 in 2021) in Lake Country.
At the first reading, a potential increase of 8.5 per cent was proposed but has since been trimmed back.
Part of the increase is to cover the following items totaling $289,933 or 1.77 per cent:
• deputy fire chief $118,171;
• additional engineering and environmental services consulting services $20,000;
• additional line painting $20,000;
• additional road signage $20,000;
• additional fleet maintenance $40,000;
• RCMP detail clerk from 0.5 full-time equivalent to one $38,362;
• part-time parks, recreation and culture assistant $16,400;
• engineering and environmental services casual support $10,000;
• increase to Halloween fireworks cost $3,000;
• Lake Country Arts Council increase $2,000;
• Rotary Canada Day funding increase $2,000;
Since first reading, the projected growth from BC Assessment has been updated to 2.88 per cent. Therefore the growth figure included in the budget has been updated from two to 2.5 per cent.
The growth in Lake Country put the district over a threshold requiring it to fund more for RCMP costs. The population has grown to 15,817, according to the 2021 census.
“There are also a number of services we become responsible for that we previously did not need to provide,” chief financial officer Trevor James said in his report.
The annual Financial Plan Bylaw must be adopted by May 15, prior to adoption of the annual tax rates bylaw.
There are also some changes coming on tap to water rates.
Residential rates will be $468 per dwelling unit and for multi-family it will be $374.40 (86 cent per cubic metre consumption rate for both).