Spallumcheen council is looking at helping its farmers.
Council unanimously agreed to reduce its 2015 property tax collection on Class 9 (farm) properties by $40,000.
“This is reducing the amount for Class 9 for farm taxation that happened from Bill 8,” said Coun. Christine Fraser. “So where we increased taxes to farm land by about $120,000, that will be reduced by about a third for this year at this stage.”
Council has begun its 2015 five-year financial plan deliberations which included a public input session Monday that drew a couple of people to the gallery.
Bill 8, introduced in 2011, increased assessment exemption on farm buildings which are residential Class 1. That resulted in a huge shift in how the taxes in Spallumcheen were split between assessment.
“Other people had to make up for $33 million in lost assessments,” said township chief financial officer Brian Freeman-Marsh. “That translated into savings for farmers of $120,000.”
Council increased Class 9 farm collection by $120,000 in 2014, angering the farm community. They are planning to reduce that amount by a third in 2015.
Spallumcheen residents are looking at a possible three per cent tax increase for general municipal purposes at this point in budget deliberations.
“That’s not for paying for the RCMP, and not for reserves,” said Freeman-Marsh. “It’s for the day-to-day operations and some increases.”
Another public input session on the financial plan is slated for April.
The township’s 2014 five-year plan called for a 3.5 per cent tax hike this year, but council has found some wiggle room to reduce that amount to three per cent.
Three readings of the 2015 financial plan bylaw are slated to be read April 20 and it is anticipated the final budget will be adopted on May 4.