The City of Nanaimo will work with a potential 2.6-per cent property tax increase as it enters budget deliberations for 2018.
The municipality released details of its 2018-22 draft financial plan on Friday, revealing the projected property tax increase in addition to increased user fees for water, sewer and garbage collection.
Based on the draft plan, garbage fees would rise 24 per cent, water fees would go up 7.5 per cent and sewer user fees would go up five per cent. According to the city, “for a typical household” with an assessed value of $441,000, the property tax increase would equate to $51; the water rate increase would amount to $36; garbage, $32; and sewer, $6, for a total city taxes and fees increase of $125.
Victor Mema, the City of Nanaimo’s chief financial officer, said the city’s 2018 operating budget is $108 million and the capital budget is $49 million.
He said there are about $3.8 million in increased costs, which he calls “cost pressures,” and $1.2 million in additional tax revenue due to population growth, creating a $2.6-million shortfall necessitating a 2.6 per cent property tax increase.
Mema said over the past four years, tax increases have cumulatively amounted to 5.5 per cent below forecasts in the 2014-18 financial plan.
“That’s huge in the scope of taxes,” said Tracy Samra, the city’s chief administrative officer. “That’s a major achievement and I think this council’s one of the few that’s ever had a zero per cent property tax increase, which they had in 2016. So they’ve been very fiscally prudent.”
Some of the capital projects on the books in 2018 include work on the waterfront walkway, south downtown waterfront access, Georgia Greenway pedestrian and cycling corridor, and Chase River sewer pump station, as well as planning on Nanaimo Fire Rescue station No. 1.
Some other expenses include replacement of water mains on sections of Terminal Avenue, College Drive and Wakesiah and Bruce avenues, roof replacement work at the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre and Beban Park social centre and replacement of the tube chiller at Frank Crane Arena.
Samra said if councillors wish for a property tax increase less than 2.6 per cent in 2018, “there would be lots of things” they could do, including deferring non-essential capital projects or cutting service levels.
“There’s some things that we need to do for risk and make sure that the city doesn’t fall apart,” she said. “Anything after that would be up for [council’s] determination to move around.”
There will be opportunities for the public to provide feedback on the budget, beginning with a committee of the whole meeting Nov. 27, an e-town hall meeting Dec. 4, a finance and audit committee workshop Dec. 7 and a city council meeting Dec. 18.