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Property taxes could rise by up to 6.6% in Prince George in 2022

City finance and audit committee calling for 4.37% tax hike, $1 million cut to RCMP budget
Prince George City Hall

Property owners in Prince George could see the municipal portion of their property tax bill increase by up to 6.6 per cent in 2022, according to a pair of reports going before city council on Monday.

In a report to the city’s Standing Committee on Finance and Audit earlier this month, city director of finance Kris Dalio reported that city’s projected expenses for 2022 are expected to increase by $8.44 million, while revenue is projected to grow by less than $1.16 million. Covering the roughly $7.3 million shortfall will require a 6.37 per cent increase in municipal property taxes.

“With recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic underway, the 2022 budget estimate reverses some of the significant adjustments that were made to the 2021 budget in both revenues and expenses,” Dalio wrote. “While revenues are not back to pre-pandemic levels, this budget recognizes the return of some estimated revenue losses, especially in the recreation and development areas. It also shows the return of discretionary expenses like training and travel.”

The increase to RCMP salaries approved by the federal government was the single largest increase in expenses facing the city, accounting for more than $2.4 million in 2022. The return to business closer to normal, following the COVID-19 pandemic, was estimated to add $2 million in non-labour expenses, while city labour costs were projected to rise by $1.79 million.

The city will see its debt servicing costs increase by nearly $1.79 million in 2022 as well, Dalio wrote.

Inflationary costs for snow control, road rehabilitation, utilities and assorted other costs made up less than $0.5 million of the projected increase for 2022.

In addition, city staff will be bringing forward three potential service enhancements for city council’s consideration, when budget deliberations begin next month, Dalio wrote. 

Prince George RCMP will be asking council’s approval to hire four additional officers for internal training and to support team investigators, at an estimated cost of $805,460 in 2022. The Prince George Fire Rescue Service is seeking an additional $60,000 in one-time funding in 2022 to hire consultants to access the department’s capacity to respond to fires and other disasters against international standards.

The city’s facilities department will also be seeking city council’s support to open the outdoor public washrooms at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre, with a cost still being assessed as of Dalio’s report.

“Should Council approve all of the service enhancements, the total tax levy increase would increase from the existing service level estimate of 6.37 (per cent) to 6.60 (per cent),” Dalio wrote in his report.

In a report going to city council on Monday, finance and audit chairperson Coun. Garth Frizzell recommended that city council direct staff to prepare a budget option which would see a 4.37 per cent tax levy increase in 2022.

In addition, Frizzell and the members of the finance and audit committee recommended that council direct city staff to prepare an option to cut $1 million from the city’s police services operating budget.

“As indicated in the attached staff report, subject to assessment value changes from BC Assessment, and tax rates set by council, a (one per cent) increase in taxes translates to an increase of approximately $20-25 for the representative household,” Frizzell wrote in his report. “For context, a (one per cent) reduction in tax levy equates to $1,143,439 in operating budget reductions.”

Using that calculation, a 4.37 per cent tax increase would result in a $87.40 to $109.25 property tax increase for an average-priced Prince George home. A 6.6 per cent property tax increase would increase the tax bill on that average home by $132 to $165 in 2022.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation, is currently reported at 4.7 per cent in Canada, for the period of October 2020 to October 2021, Frizzell added.

The city still has roughly $3 million in B.C. Safe Restart funding from the province, which could be used to offset some of the expected tax increase in 2022, he wrote. That number may increase, as not all the Safe Restart money allocated to the city budget in 2021 may end up being used.

“An updated balance of the Safe Restart Funds will be provided to Council during the January 24th budget meeting once a large portion of the year-end accounting processes have been completed,” Frizzell wrote.