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Regional district approves 2.4 per cent tax increase

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George will be pulling 2.4 per cent more in taxes from residents this year. That represents the overall tax increase, however, rates will vary depending on what services residents are receiving and whether they live in a municipality.

The board of directors approved a $51.1 million budget Thursday, along with a five-year capital plan.

Chair Art Kaehn says the 2019 budget reflects an investment in capital projects in a number of key areas including solid waste management and the 9-1-1 emergency service.

“We are excited to move forward on some big projects that will improve quality of life for residents in our region without a significant impact on taxation,” said Kaehn.

Those projects include moving emergency management operations to the new city Firehall #1 as well as creating a back-up site, the Foothills Landfill entrance relocation, conversion of the Mackenzie landfill to a transfer station with a new scale, and re-designing the Cummings Road transfer station.

Of the $51.1 million, $19.3 million will be funded through property taxation, which is an increase of $450,000 or 2.4 per cent over 2018. Most of the other funding for the budget for 2019 is coming in the form of grants, user fees and use of reserve funds.

The largest expense item for the regional district is solid waste management, which takes almost 50 per cent of the total at $22.8 million. Other large expenditure areas are 9-1-1 emergency response services at $6.5 million, protective services at $5.8 million, recreation and cultural services at $3.6 million, and administration at $5.1 million.

Kaehn stressed that an increase or decrease in the overall requisition does not always translate to what residents will see reflected on their tax bill. The budget can affect communities in the region differently depending on a number of variables such as services provided to that area, fluctuations in property assessments and a change in the amount of residential or commercial properties that share in the funding of a particular service.

Regional District taxes per $100,000 of residential assessment decreased in all municipalities and electoral areas for 2019. In Prince George, the taxes decreased four per cent to $53.32 per $100,000 residential assessment.

In Mackenzie, taxes are down 3.8 per cent to $61.84 per $100,000 residential assessment. Valemount will see a 3.5 per cent decrease at $283.05 per $100,000 residential assessment. McBride will see decrease of 2.9 per cent at $414.28. However, those decreases may not result in a decrease on the tax bill for many homeowners in the region. The average increase region-wide in property assessment was 6.57 per cent, meaning that the overall amount homeowners are taxed on may have increased.

The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George provides 92 services to residents of its seven electoral areas and to the City of Prince George, District of Mackenzie, Village of Valemount and Village of McBride.