Budget time reveals tax increase in Agassiz

Kent homeowners among lowest rate payers in FVRD and Vancouver area

The public got its first look at the overall 2013 budget in the District of Kent on Monday night, and it includes an average tax increase of 5.22 per cent.

Judy Lewis, Director of Financial Services, broke the increase down into two amounts — 2.77% for operating and capital expenses and 2.45% for policing.

There was a general tax rate increase in 2012 of 0.8%, which was not enough to “adequately provide for infrastructure and operating requirements,” Lewis explained. Like many other B.C. municipalities are reporting, the change from HST back to a GST/PST system will also cost the District more for operating costs.

The budget, which received three readings and will likely be adopted at next Monday’s council meeting, did include some good news.

The District of Kent has been very successful in applying for and receiving grants to help fund projects, totaling just over $1.6 million in 2013.

That includes $337,189 for a Small Communities Grant, $330,000 for the Hammersley Pump design and flood box construction, $290,000 for the townsite sewer main replacement program and $250,300 for the community infrastructure improvement grant.

“This is a significant achievement for council, and staff, for a community this size,” Lewis told council.

Some of the projects included in this year’s budget are the renovations at the old firehall/municipal hall ($170,000), an upgrade to the sand/salt bin and fuel shed ($20,000), work on Cameron Road from Humphrey to McCallum ($100,000) and the new dog park area at the riding ring ($5,000, see page 10).

The District also has set out plans to clean about 11.26 kms of ditches, with the largest area being the Westlin ditch (4.20 km).

That number is down a bit from last year, Lewis said, and is an estimate that could change depending on needs.

While council recently voted to increase acreage levies, those increases won’t be charged until 2014, and will be brought in gradually up to 2016.

Sewer and water rates also increase slightly this year in Kent.

Lewis offered an example of property taxes and charges for this year in Kent. For a $307,000 assessment for a single family home, taxes will be $2,935, the second lowest in all communities from Vancouver to Hope.

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