District of Kent eyes 2.97% tax hike

A third of the proposed increase will go toward policing costs

A proposed tax increase could see District of Kent residents adding 2.97 per cent to their bills for the 2016 year if a new five-year financial plan is adopted.

Director of financial services Judy Lewis presented the 2016-2020 fiscal blueprint at a special meeting Monday night in the Centennial Centre at Municipal Hall, noting that council is required to adopt a five-year financial plan prior to May 15.

About a third of funds resulting from that increase will go to local RCMP.

“The highlights of the financial plan in 2016 include a .98 per cent tax increase to support the net increase in policing,” Lewis said. “Half of that is required because of less reliance on the reserve and $30,000 is because of increased expenditures in policing.”

An additional tax increase totalling 1.99 per cent is required due to increases in capital expenditures, inflation, services and utility costs at the Community Recreation and Cultural Centre.

There are other minor increases that don’t affect taxation because they are offset by increases in revenues, Lewis said.

To the average owner of a single family home assessed at $300,000 in 2015, that kind of increase will come to an estimated $35.66 for the year.

Mandatory public consultation was held late last month.

“Two open houses were held on Feb. 23, one in the afternoon and one in the evening,” she said. “The open houses were fairly well attended with 25 people in attendance—22 members of the public and three members of council. Feedback received at the open house was very positive.”

Coun. Duane Post noted some large expenditure listings in the proposed capital plan—$75,000 for a municipal hall backup generator and $330,000 allocated for a proposed spray park—expressing concern about further discussion on some of the items.

But before purchases of all items over $25,000 are made, the District’s purchasing policy requires those decisions to come before council.

“So having it in the financial plan does not mean that it is necessarily going to happen,” Lewis said. “But we do have to have it in the financial plan in order for it to happen.”

Council passed Lewis’s recommendation to present the financial plan for three reads next Monday at the District’s regular meeting.