9% tax increase approved

Council members in Oliver unanimously voted for a nine per cent increase in the municipal portion of property taxes this year, finalized during a special council meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said that will equate to a tax increase of about $47.50 for the average home in the town.

He pointed out the reason for the increase is because the town expects it will have to pay 70 per cent of policing costs in 2022 following the next national census, compared to the 30 per cent it currently pays.

"It's a little bit scary for a small town. But we looked at the numbers... If we do nothing, then in 2022 taxpayers are going to be a faced with about a 54 per cent increase in their taxes for their municipal portion," Hovanes said.

"If we start raising it by 9 per cent a year, then hopefully in 2022 we've already raised to the amount that is needed to fund our portion of police costs."

Oliver's population was counted at 4,928 in the 2016 census, and a population above 5,000 triggers the jump in policing costs that a municipality has to pay for.

The town expects to surpass that total in the next census count, and began discussing upped policing costs months ago.

"I think this was a very responsible form of action by our council... I feel pretty good about the direction we're taking," Hovanes said.

According to the report to council from chief financial officer Devon Wannop, funds from the tax increase will go solely to a capitals projects fund, and "in the year 2022 we will shift that amount that has been going to the capital projects and allocate it to the expected policing costs."

The report also showed that Oliver will collect an extra $135,000 in taxes from new homes built last year.

Hovanes said council agreed to put 50 per cent of that non-market change into a police reserve fund this year.

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