Flavio NienowLakes District News
Residents of the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) can expect to see a decrease in taxation in 2017.
According to the RDBN’s draft of the 2017 budget, region-wide services will see a tax decrease of $2.67 on a $100,000 property – that’s a decrease of 2.1 per cent. Regional rural services will see a decrease of $1.23 per $100,000 of assessment for rural taxpayers – that’s a decrease of 4.4 per cent.
According to regional district’s chair Bill Miller, taxes were reduced this year because they had been increased in 2016 to account for staffing changes – including the change-over of the chief financial officer and chief administrative officer.
“There were additional expenses for the change-over including retirement allowances, vacation payouts, moving expenses, interview expenses, advertising expenses, and consulting to cover the transition period,” explained Miller.
Although taxpayers didn’t see any significant increases last year, in March of 2015 the RDBN board was dealing with double-digit tax increases – region-wide services increased by 15.5 per cent while taxation on regional rural services increased by 22.4 per cent.
Looking at the RDBN’s five-year trend, from 2012 to 2016 there was an average tax rate increase of 1.1 per cent for municipal taxpayers and 1.7 per cent for rural taxpayers.
Staff wages and board remuneration to increase
According to this year’s budget draft, RDBN staff and board of directors can expect to see an increase to their remuneration.
The board of directors will see a remuneration increase of 1.9 per cent as per Bylaw 1717, which reflects the increase in B.C.’s consumer price index. Staff wages will also increase by 1.9 per cent.
Last year the regional district’s chief administrative officer said the RDBN’s base remuneration rates were lower than those of other comparably sized regional districts.
Lakes District News has asked the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS), a regional district of similar size, how much their employees make. The RDKS had seven employees that earned over $75,000 in 2015, totalling $706,076.33. Their highest remuneration paid in 2015 was $135,122.73, which was paid to the RDKS administrator.
Meanwhile the RDBN’s chief administrative officer received $198,093.26 in wages and overtime in 2015 and a total of 10 employees earned more than $75,000. Their combined wages and overtime totalled slightly more than $1.1 million – which represents nearly 39 per cent of the total remuneration of $2,849,702 paid to all RDBN employees in 2015.
The third draft of the budget will be presented on March 9 and is expected to be adopted on March 23, 2017.
Regional district’s chair Bill Miller said it’s important to note that this is only the second draft of the budget and that changes will likely be made over the next few weeks.