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Dawson Creek considers first tax rate hike in seven years

Average homeowner can expect around $36 increase to property tax bill if increase is approved
The City of Dawson Creek is considering a tax rate increase for the first time in seven years.

Dawson Creek could see its first tax rate increases in years as the city struggles with stagnating revenues and a slow economy.

The city’s 2017 draft budget, released late last month, recommends “modest” increases to residential, commercial and industrial tax rates—some of which have not risen in over a decade.

Residential tax rates have not changed in seven years, according to Chief Financial Officer Shelly Woolf. Since 2010, the city has charged $5.16 per $1,000 of assessed value on residential properties. The proposal before council would see that rate increase just under two per cent to $5.26.

Commercial and industrial property owners, meanwhile, would see their rates increase from $16.75 to $17.09. Those rates have not changed since the early 1990s, Woolf said.

Council first mulled a small tax rate increase in the fall, ahead of 2017 budget discussions.  Before this year, assessment values had been increasing steadily, allowing the city to cover rising costs without increasing tax rates.

That stopped this year, however. With the local economy slow due to cutbacks in the oil and gas sector, Dawson Creek’s residential assessment base declined by $13.5 million this year. After years of new construction and market value increases, assessed values in Dawson Creek increased less than one per cent in 2017.

Now, without a rate increase, the city will have trouble maintaining existing service levels.

“A modest tax increase will ensure the city stays strong in the long-term,” Woolf said.  

A tax rate increase would generate $53,026 in new revenue for the city, according to the draft budget. Residents also pay a flat tax of $300 on improved lots and $100 on vacant properties.

The average single-family home in Dawson Creek was assessed at $258,146 this year, according to BC Assessment. Under the proposed tax rate, the average single-family homeowner can expect to pay $35.89 more in municipal taxes than last year.

Council held its first meeting of the three-month budgeting process Feb. 6. The budget will be finalized by the end of April, so the rates are not set in stone.   A public consultation session on the budget is set for March 6.

Read the city's full 2017 draft budget

City of Dawson Creek draft 2017 budget report by Jonny Wakefield on Scribd

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