PORT HARDY – Businesses are getting a tax break this year, but everyone else will pay a little more for property taxes and boat owners will pay more for moorage.
Port Hardy Council gave first, second and third reading to a tax-rate bylaw April 26.
“Basically it is last year’s tax collected increased by three per cent, which is about $61,000,” said Deb Clipperton, manager of corporate services. “Then it was smoothed back over all the assessments except business.”
That’s because the tax rate for businesses was already high.
“Council made a decision last year to lower our rate for businesses after looking at where we were in comparison with other communities on Vancouver Island,” said Mayor Bev Parnham, “We saw that our businesses were paying a disproportionate percentage of our overall taxes. In order to remain competitive and attract and retain business in Port Hardy we have lowered the tax rate for business the past two years to put the rate more in the ballpark.”
That puts more of the increase on home owners, but a substantial increase in the homeowners’ grant should offset most of the increase for the average home, said Clipperton.
During the same meeting, council gave first, second and third reading to the bylaw governing user fees for the harbour and for animal control rates.
Non-commercial harbour users and live aboards are facing significant increases in moorage rates. Live aboards who prepay for a year will pay about 10 per cent, or $1.07 more per metre. Other non-commercial vessels will pay 33 per cent or $3.17 more per metre than last year, but that is still an 80 per cent discount off the new daily rate, said Clipperton. Commercial rates have also increased but not as dramatically, with about a one-per-cent increase yearly.
“The increases in harbour rates were made, again, after comparing our rates and the services we offer to those of other communities on Vancouver Island,” said Parnham. “The costs for maintaining our harbour and facilities has increased over the years and the rates have not increased accordingly, hence the increase. Even with the increases, our rates are still significantly lower than most other communities on the island.”
Adoption fees for for animals that have been spayed or neutered by the District are also increasing. New rate categories charge separate, higher fees for older and larger dogs. Previously, potential owners of all dogs spayed or neutered by the District were charged $225. That rate now increases from $225 for a small male puppy to $525 for a female, older than one year and weighing more than 88 pounds. Cat fees also increase from $150 for any cat to a higher charge for spaying or pregnant spaying. Animals spayed or neutered prior to impoundment are still $50 to adopt.