WFN office building —Image credit: Google Maps

WFN residents to see three per cent tax hike

2017 budget approved by the Westbank First Nation council Thursday.

The Westbank First Nation council gave adopted its 2017-18 budget. And residents of the WFN’s two Westside reserves will see an average three per cent hike in residential property taxes.

The WFN is projecting taking in $13.8 million in property taxes this year, up from $13.3 million in 2016. The average residential property taxpayer on WFN lands will pay $1,797 in 2017, an increase of $52 over 2016. The homeowner grant, if applicable, of $402 will reduce that amount to $1,395.

Property taxes paid to WFN will go towards funding the following:

• Protective services (fire protection, law enforcement ) $1.9 million

• Local services (transit, regional parks, community centres, library) $1.9 million

· Recreation and youth programs $600,000

· Financial reserves (capital project and contingency reserves) $1.8 million

· Community development (engineering, planning, public works) $1.5 million

· General government (administration, governance, finance) $4.5 million

· Homeowner grants $1.7 million

The most recent data from B.C. Assessment shows new construction of $21.2 million, or 1.4 percent growth, while market value increased by 8.19 percent on the reserves.

Currently, there were 4,226 residences on the assessment roll, up from 4,179 last year and 4,095 in 2015. These, along with approximately 400 businesses, make up more than $1.6 billion in total assessed taxable property on WFN lands.

By this measure, WFN says it ranks approximately 58th among the 162 municipalities in B.C.

Under the WFN property tax by-laws, property tax rates and expenditure by-laws are submitted for review to the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC), a federal body.

The FNTC reviews the budget and rates to ensure they are reasonable and equitable, and refers them to the federal aboriginal affairs and northern development minister for final approval.

Prior to final approval by the WFN council Thursday, the local government and property tax budget was accepted and recommended by the WFN’s Advisory Council, representing approximately 9,000 non-native residents who live on WFN lands.

Property tax notices are scheduled to be mailed out in late May, and the deadline for payment of property without penalty is July 4.

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