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1.4% tax increase for WFN residents

Westbank First Nation residents's property taxes will increase by 1.4 per cent this year.

The increase is less than half of the expected 2.95 per cent tax hike District of West Kelowna residents are facing.

WFN chief and council gave final approval to the WFN budget for 2014/15 at Monday's council meeting.

Under the budget, property taxation revenues are projected at $12.7 million, which will net $11.22 million after the WFN homeowner grant of $1.48 million is rebated to the residential taxpayers.

The average residential property taxpayer on WFN lands will pay approximately 1.4 per cent or $23 more in property taxes in 2014 than the previous year.

The average homeowner will be taxed $1,658 before WFN's home owner grant and pay $1,283 after the grant.

There are currently 3,929 residences on WFN lands, up from 3,910 last year and 3,840 two years ago. These, combined with 105 businesses, combine to create over $1.3 billion in total assessed values.

Commercial developments on WFN lands grew at an overall rate of 2.1 per cent last year, allowing residential taxpayers to pay a slightly lesser share of total property taxes. The residential burden will be 52.2 per cent in 2014, down from 53 per cent in 2013.

"While overall growth in assessments slowed in 2013, total property assessments on WFN lands still increased by $24 million or 1.8 per cent," said Ernest Jack, WFN surveyor of taxes.

"We are especially pleased that the residential tax increase is, on average, $23 or 1.4 per cent, which is less than the percentage being applied to our neighbouring municipalities."

The net property tax budget of $11.2 million pays for the following services: Protective services ($1.5 million), local services ($1.7 million), recreation and youth programs ($0.6 million), financial reserves ($2.3 million), community development ($1.2 million) and general government services ($3.9 million).

Several capital projects are expected to come forward this year, including: Building a new youth centre, additional sidewalks, water, sewer and road improvements, as well as renovating the third floor offices and council chambers in the WFN government building.

Under the WFN property tax bylaws, property rates and expenditure bylaws are submitted for review to the First Nations Tax Commission. The FNTC reviews the rates and budget to ensure they are reasonable and equitable. The rates and budget bylaws are referred by the FNTC to the federal minister of aboriginal affairs for final approval.

Property tax notices will be mailed in early June.

 

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