The cost of owning most Central Okanagan homes will creep up a little bit this week - InfoNews

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The cost of owning most Central Okanagan homes will creep up a little bit this week

FILE PHOTO -
February 19, 2019 - 4:35 PM

KELOWNA - Most municipalities set their 2019 provisional tax rates in December. Thursday will be the Regional District of the Central Okanagan’s turn to look at its own budget.

“This is the first, real, detailed opportunity that the board will get,” district communications officer Bruce Smith told iNFOnews.ca. “Staff makes the presentation in deep detail. Then the board will provide some direction that they would like to see changed or amended and that will be done over the next couple of weeks and presented back to the board on March 14.”

Homeowners get a tax bill from their local governments each spring, collecting taxes for a variety of services, including school, hospital and the regional district.

Breaking down who pays what in each city is complicated, but the owners of average-priced homes in Central Okanagan municipalities pay around $200 per year to the regional district, in addition to their other taxes.

The proposed taxes for 2019 range from a 0.64 per cent average increase in West Kelowna to a reduction of 0.56 per cent in Lake Country (the only area with a decrease).

What that means in dollar terms is an extra $1.28 for the owner of the average home in West Kelowna versus a $1.16 savings in Lake Country.

The big spenders in the region are those living in the unincorporated areas who, on average, pay about $500 (Central Okanagan East) or $612 (Central Okanagan West). Of course, they don’t pay the hundreds of dollars of municipal taxes charged to everyone else.

Each municipality pays for different services offered by the regional district. Some of those services are mosquito, weed and dog control, regional rescue, Crime Stoppers, regional parks and the Economic Development Commission.

In all, about $18.7 million in tax dollars are paid to the regional district.

Other parts of the total property tax bill are also being considered this week as School District 23 gets its first look at its 2019-20 budget during its finance committee meeting Wednesday. That part of the tax bill is offset for many residents by the provincial Home Owner Grant of $770.

Other line items on the tax bills include levies for the regional library, Sterile Insect Release program and things like garbage, recycling, water and sewer. Services and rates vary depending on where you live.

One rate that won’t change is the hospital tax.

To kick off its budget meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, the regional district board actually sets up as a hospital board that has more than $5 million in projects to fund this year.

The average property owner will pay $183 in 2019 but that’s a zero percent increase. There have been no hospital tax increases since 2016 and no increases are proposed next five years.

The hospital tax rate was set some years ago to pay for the Ambulatory Care Centre and to pay for Heart and Surgical Centre projects, which are mostly paid off, states a report to the regional board.

Last year, for the first time, excess money ($2.5 million) was put into a hospital reserve fund. That’s expected to continue to grow to $25 million by 2023. That money could be used to help pay down debt, especially if interest rates rise, or to fund new projects with cash. Hospital taxes go mostly to Kelowna General Hospital but also contribute to other Central Okanagan health care faciliteis.

Municipal taxes are due by the beginning of July.


WHO PAYS WHAT TO THE REGIONAL DISTRICT

Kelowna 71%
West Kelowna 15.8%
Lake Country 6.8%
Peachland 2.7%
Electoral Area West 1.9%
Electoral Area East 1.8%

 


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2019
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