Less than 0.5% increase for WFN taxpayers

WFN's frugal budget will see the average taxpayer pay approximately 0.39 per cent more in property taxes this year.

Westbank First Nation’s frugal budget will see the average residential property taxpayer on WFN lands pay approximately 0.39 per cent more in property taxes this year.

Chief and council approved the WFN 2012 to 2013 budget on Monday.

“This budget is the result of extensive planning and consultation by all stakeholders over the past six months. It reflects the cooperation and goodwill that are key to WFN’s financial progress,” said Chief Robert Louie.

“We have strived and worked hard to keep the taxes for 2012 to 2013 at the lowest rate we possibly can.”

The annual budget projects revenues from all sources to be $34 million in 2012 to 2013, with expenditures at $32.7 million and $1.3 million transferred to reserves.

Property taxation revenues are projected at $11.45 million, which will net $10 million after the homeowner grant of $1.45 million is rebated directly to the residential taxpayers by WFN.

“Westbank First Nation strives to administer a property tax regime that is sensitive to taxpayers’ concerns while delivering an equitable, transparent review process including the delivery of local government services,” said Ernest M. Jack, surveyor of taxes for WFN.

The average residential tax payable is anticipated to be around $1,250 after homeowner grants; however, Brian Conner, director of finance for WFN, cautions taxpayers not to make any conclusions based on average numbers.

“WFN has worked hard with all stakeholders to create fair and reasonable property tax rates, but specific property taxes payable depend on individual property assessments and these of course vary widely,” said Conner.

Property tax burden by assessment class shows commercial properties contributing close to 43 per cent of the total property taxes and residential properties contributing 55 per cent.

There are 3,840 residential taxpayers on WFN land in 2012: An increase of nearly 10 per cent from 2011.

“The property tax budget reflects good financial management on the part of WFN and respect for the taxpayer’s pocketbook,” said Terry Turcan, chair of the WFN advisory council representing non-native residents on WFN lands.

The net property tax budget of $10 million will pay for protective services, local services, recreation and youth programs, financial reserves, community development and administration.

Property tax notices will go out in early June.