City cements tax rate increase

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Fort St. John residents will dish out 2.5% more on municipal taxes this year than in 2009.

But it could have been more, because City Staff initially recommended that the rate be increased by 3.55% at Monday’s Council meeting.

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The proposed leap was a result of changes to property assessment numbers. On April 1st, the B.C. Assessment Authority released its revised numbers. In total, Fort St. John residential properties decreased by more than $6 million.

If the property assessment numbers remained the same as they were in January, the City would have been safe to collect 2.5% more from residential property owners. But since many assessments decreased, the City needed to find a way to collect an additional $192,400 for its operational budget.

But Mayor Bruce Lantz said he wasn’t comfortable with springing an additional percentage point onto taxpayers.

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So, Councilors unanimously voted to increase the tax rate by 2.5%, and use funds from the Assessment Stabilization Budget to make up the $192,400 difference.

Money in the Assessment Stabilization Budget comes from surpluses in previous budgets, and acts as a safety net incase assessment numbers fluctuate.

However, Councilor Lori Ackerman says that money will need to be replaced as soon as possible.

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Lantz says if the City doesn’t have any surplus money to repay the Assessment Stabilization Budget, and requires funds in 2011, it will have to increase taxes.

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Mayor Lantz says the City hopes to repay the Assessment Stabilization Budget within a year.

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