Recent History – 2002
By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
For the ninth year in a row, property taxes in Dawson Creek will decrease.
Council approved unanimously Monday a schedule that will see the residential rate drop slightly to $11.05 per $1,000 assessed value from $11.25.
Take away the flat tax of $300 per improved residential property and $100 per unimproved property and that works out to $7.30 per $1,000 compared to $7.37.
“Any time you can report that we are holding the line on or decreasing taxes somewhat is good news, especially nine years in a row,” said Mayor Wayne Dahlen.
Dahlen readily acknowledged that Fair Share, through which the city receives about $4 million per year from the province’s oil and gas royalties, played a major role in preventing a tax increase.
He cautioned that the city must refrain from becoming too dependent on Fair Share especially since agreement ends in 2007.
“If we become very dependent on it and then all of a sudden lose it, there would be a tremendous rude awakening to our ratepayers that we would either have to severely cut services or raise taxes.
“So we are at the same time building a reserve, we are also paying down the debt and we’re coming up with some contingency plans so when that day comes, there won’t be a big surprise to our ratepayers.”
The rates will fall across the board. Utilities will pay $60.34, down from $61.43, the rate for major industry, light industry and business will be $31.50 compared to $32.07. The residential rate will also apply to farms and recreational and non-profit properties.
Even with the drop, the city will still bring in more revenue than last year. It’s estimated that property tax will generate $7,402,652 compared to $7,278,014 for 2001. Of the total for 2002, $185,659 is expected to be generated by new assessment.
Even though taxes were kept in line, council has been able to include some additional expenditures. Extra money has been set aside for renovations at City Kids Day Care and to increase the Dawson Creek Art Gallery’s fee for service.
Adding to the good news, a survey of provincial residential property tax ranks Dawson Creek as 66th lowest amongst 154 municipalities in B.C., indicating that home owners in 57 per cent of the municipalities pay more in property taxes.
Additionally, the survey shows that Campbell River is the only municipality larger than Dawson Creek where home owners pay less property tax.
“We’re going to make sure we advertise that fact, because for many years, we were known as a high tax city and we think that kind of hindered business development,” Dahlen said.
The announcement should make for a relatively calm town hall meeting, set for Wednesday, April 24, at Sudeten Hall, 7 p.m. start.
During the meeting, council and staff will give the public a closer look at the budget and what is planned for the coming year. As well, council members will give a brief presentation on their particular portfolios and will be followed by a question and answer period.