Lantzville District Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)

Lantzville District Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)

Lantzville expected to adopt budget with 20.7% tax increase

District council passes three readings of financial plan bylaw

District of Lantzville council has settled on a budget for 2022 that is slated for adoption next week.

Council held a public meeting Wednesday, Nov. 24, to take final input into the 2022-26 financial plan bylaw and pass three readings.

Director of financial services Raj Hayre reported that since last month’s budget meetings, B.C. Assessment has provided a preview property tax roll which has calculated that Lantzville’s average single-family home assessment is now close to $1.01 million, up from $754,000.

“The good news is that there’s a lot more millionaires in Lantzville than there were a month ago, and that’s just the nature of the market here,” said Coun. Will Geselbracht. “So crack the champagne.”

Hayre explained that higher assessments won’t change the dollar amounts that the district would collect through taxation.

“An increase in assessed value does not result in the municipality collecting more tax revenue,” he said. “The mill rate is adjusted to offset the change in assessment.”

According to a staff report, an average single-family home will pay $1,595 in municipal property taxes and $993 in user fees, representing a $274 increase to property taxes and $29 increase to user fees. The property tax increase amounts to a 20.7-per cent increase from 2021.

Coun. Karen Proctor noted that two-thirds of Lantzville’s households are below the average assessment and will pay less than the $274 increase.

“I think it is deceptive and actually bordering on inflammatory to refer to the tax increase in percentages rather than dollar amounts…” she said. “I think that a $25-a-month increase is reasonable especially considering how much less our taxes are than any surrounding municipality or any municipality in B.C. and the fact that we are so very far behind in capital reserve funding.”

Coun. Jamie Wilson also mentioned that residents should look at the tax increase as a dollar figure and not a percentage, and said although he doesn’t like the tax increase, it’s necessary.

“I think we need to understand as a community that we haven’t paid our way for years,” he said. “Some of these tax increases are done so in an effort to put us in a healthier situation moving forward so we don’t have to have these tax increases.”

Geselbracht said that the increase to taxation in dollar figures is “moderate” and necessary to maintain service levels, set aside money for asset management and comply with strategic priorities.

“We aren’t being responsible if we simply say, ‘well, we’ll let it go to the future, the kids can pay for it’…” he said. “It’s our responsibility to keep up on this.”

He said over the past five years, municipal taxes for his own property have increased 14 per cent.

However, Coun. Ian Savage said that when compounded, property taxes have increased more than 70 per cent during council’s term. He expressed the opinion that the district can increase staffing levels or reserve funding, but not both.

“Our population hasn’t increased much so there’s no reason for such a rapid increase in new staff … this should be done in a slow, gradual way, commensurate with the increase in population,” he said.

Mayor Mark Swain said he would have preferred that a greater share of tax dollars go to asset management “rather than putting it off another year.”

Council passed three readings of the financial plan bylaw, with only Savage opposed. The bylaw will be back at the council table on Wednesday, Dec. 1, for adoption.

READ ALSO: Lantzville looking at 21% property tax increase

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