A public consultation process on the Princeton municipal budget will take place. (File photo)

A public consultation process on the Princeton municipal budget will take place. (File photo)

Princeton residents face tax increases in 2023

Capital levy created to pay back infrastructure loan

Taxes are headed north in Princeton for 2023.

In addition to a proposed 10 per cent increase in municipal property taxes, it is the first year of repayment on the town’s infrastructure loan while the regional district is proposing to raise its take from Princeton by 6.9 per cent.

“It is not an easy decision,” said deputy mayor Barb Gould, who chaired a December budget meeting where key decisions were made.

“Unless we want to decrease our services that we provide to the community, our taxes are going to go up.”

Gould stressed the pressures of inflation, provincial downloading and the need to address and plan for future community needs.

“The expectation is we are going to grow, whether we want to or not. The community is going to grow, and we need to be able to support that.”

Details regarding the public consultation process will be forthcoming.

James Graham, director of finance, said all the numbers are preliminary.

This is especially true of the new capital levy, which is required to begin repayment of a $7 million loan through the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA) to upgrade infrastructure.

Approximately, the levy will add 34 cents for every $1,000 a property is worth and will appear as a separate line on the tax bill.

The recently released BC Assessment data, which captures the average value of a home in Princeton at $389,000, would put the levy at $132 for such a property.

The MFA loan was given assent by Princeton voters in July 2021, after a six-week Alternative Approval Process collected only 10 forms of disagreement.

The loan was also approved by the province and the regional district.

Gould noted the support the plan received two years ago but acknowledged some might feel differently now the loan is being repaid.

“The levy is the one that is going to be felt the most. It’s also the one that is needed the most and that’s because of the infrastructure deficit.”

She said the current council inherited aging, failing infrastructure, and the loan and the payback only underscore the municipality’s current need to go ahead with new projects.

Princeton has so far spent $676,000 of the loan, mostly on upgrades to the Warren and Billiter booster station, which moves water from the town centre to the benches.

Graham said the proposed 10 per cent property tax increase is driven by inflation of seven per cent. The additional three per cent will go to services and projects.

Gould cited several planned initiatives for 2023 that will be funded by general taxation including more bear proof garbage cans, repairs to the trail between third and second bench, operations for the new urban wildlife committee, completion of the Official Community Plan and the first steps towards a recreation master plan.

A 10 per cent property tax increase will amount to a gain to the municipality of $300,000.

Graham also explained property taxes will not increase 10 per cent across the board but will apportioned according to assessment.

He urged anyone with concerns about paying tax bills should contact the municipality to explore grant opportunities and payment plans.

Related: Princeton adopts financial plan including a $42 million budget for 2022

Related: Property taxes forecast to increase in Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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