TNRD budget brings tax hike of less than a dollar for Kamloops homeowners

The regional district board has approved adoption of its five-year-financial plan, with finance director Doug Rae telling the board at its March 25 meeting the necessary draw via taxation is expected to be down in 2021, compared to 2020, with no new services added and some expenditures decreased.

Thompson-Nicola Regional District taxes are set to rise slightly this year, equating to a 73-cent increase for owners of the average assessed Kamloops property, who will pay $133.75 in 2021.

The regional district board has approved adoption of its five-year-financial plan, with finance director Doug Rae telling the board at its March 25 meeting the necessary draw via taxation is expected to be down in 2021, compared to 2020, with no new services added and some expenditures decreased.

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However, a continued shift from industry means more burden landing on residents.

Kamloops Coun. and TNRD director Mike O’Reilly called it “nerve-wracking,” while fellow Kamloops Coun. and TNRD director Dieter Dudy cited sunset industries, forestry and mining, and questioned whether other sectors like technology could make up the difference for the tax base in the future.

Rae said brick and mortar is required to add to the assessment base and that an online business doesn’t necessarily require a large production facility, such as would be the case for a mill or other industry.

Among expenditure reductions, the TNRD reduced its accommodation and meals budget since the provisional budget. The board’s accommodation and meals budget decreased from $55,000 to $30,000. In addition, administration has a $20,000 accommodation and meals budget, which has not changed.

(TNRD spending examined by KTW showed the combined line items hit $92,706 in 2018.)

The board travel budget has also been reduced from $63,000 to $60,000, while an administrative travel budget of $6,000 remains unchanged. A “general and sundry” line item will be reduced from $55,000 to $30,000 in 2022. The board also has a “general” budget of $46,000.

(In 2018, organizational general and sundry spent was $240,875.)

During budget talks, Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine — who chairs the regional district audit committee — suggested the regional district add a finance committee. The regional district has an audit committee, but not a finance committee. Raine said finance committees are something most municipal governments have, a point he said he has raised in the past. Raine said the idea was shot down by administration, which apparently cited the budget process as an administrative decision.

“The conversation was shut down pretty quickly. I do think we should ,as a board, think about, is there a role for audit-finance?” Raine said. “And, if we did, if there is a role, it would have to be a much broader finance committee that would certainly represent a good cross-section of the board, but to be working ahead of the game with administration so that these things come to us with some preparation work already done.”

Housing prices in the TNRD

Average residential housing prices on rise in region:

• Kamloops: $480,765 in 2021, compared to $465,336 in 2020 (up five per cent);

• Barriere: $251,260, $230,823 (up nine per cent);

• Clearwater: $241,260, $229,574 (up five per cent);

• Merritt: $307,443, $277,456 (up 11 per cent);

• Logan Lake: $237,095, $207,576 (up 14 per cent);

• Ashcroft: $221,938, $210,188 (up six per cent);

• Cache Creek: $172,089, $154,609 (up 11 per cent);

• Chase: $295,702, $290,701 (up two per cent);

• Clinton: $152,325, $144,633 (up five per cent);

• Lytton $115,203, $126,348 (down nine per cent);

• Sun Peaks: $569,597, $520,778 (up nine per cent).

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