Clinton property assessments grew by 13 per cent this year over 2021, resulting in an expected increase of $105,140 in property tax revenue for the village coffers.
Chief Financial Officer Mandy McKague told Clinton council in a special meeting on March 9 that the projected increase is enough to cover the 2022 budget and no additional tax increases are planned, aside from a scheduled two per cent rise in the water and sewer utility rates.
“Everyone’s property assessments went up this year, and that assessment increase is enough to cover the budget,” she explained. “Every time BC Assessment raises assessments we don’t have to raise our tax rate.”
However, Coun. David Park expressed concern that the residential mill rate is becoming too high and might deter some people from moving to the community. Local governments are responsible for setting the mill rate: the amount of tax payable per dollar of the assessed value of a property.
Clinton’s mill rate is on the higher side, McKague said, because it has a very small population — it currently sits at 630 people — and few businesses.
“We don’t want to lower the tax rate, because it’s a hard conversation when we have to raise it again,” McKague said.
“Residents are carrying the tax burden, and we’re not in the position to lower it, but we also don’t want to have to raise it. People will be paying more. All our expenses are going up, and the cost of living is increasing.”
McKague told council the general fund operating expenditure shows a slight increase over 2021, for a total of $1.5 million. The largest increase — $171,010 over last year — is in public works, which includes the loan for the new public works building. The report also noted that the snow and ice removal budget is up dramatically over 2021. Funds are being set aside in both the water and sewer budgets for asset management.
McKague told the Journal that the bid for the public works building came in on target, and will probably be under budget. Work on the new building — located at Elliott Park — is well underway, and should be completed by May.
Capital projects for 2022 include paving on Carson Street ($200,000); sidewalk and curb replacement ($100,000); SCBA equipment for the fire department ($120,000); a dehumidifier ($90,000) and heater ($6,000) for the arena; and $70,000 for pathways, picnic tables, and playground equipment upgrades at Reg Conn Park.
Two water projects scheduled for this year have been deferred because the costs will be much higher than anticipated. She added the increase in water and sewer rates is the third and final one of a three-year plan which saw modest increases each year. The utility rates will have to be revisited next year.
Council has approved first and second reading of the 2022-2026 Financial Plan Bylaw. There is still time for public input before third reading at the council meeting on March 23.