City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie council votes 6-1 for 5 percent tax increase, budget open to comment

Public comment on the 2022 budget is open until the end of March 2

City of Fernie councillors have voted to give first and second reading to the 2022-2026 financial plan, which includes a 5 percent tax increase for 2022.

Councillors voted 6-1 at the Feb. 22 special council meeting to support the plan, with only councillor Phil Iddon voting against.

The 2022-2026 financial plan is now open for public comment, with submissions welcomed through to the end of Wednesday, Mar. 2.

Comment can be made through the city’s ‘Let’s talk’ website at letstalk.fernie.ca/budget, directly via email at finance@fernie.ca and by mail addressed to City Hall, 501 3rd Avenue, box 190, Fernie, BC, V0B 1M0.

The full budget can be found on the City of Fernie website, and discussion on the budget is recorded and posting on the city’s Facebook page.

Feedback will be summarized and presented to city council at the special meeting of council on Mar. 7, followed by further council discussion and a vote on whether to give the plan a third reading. If it gets a third reading, it will be adopted by Mar. 14.

According to the city’s financials, increased costs and operating expenses resulted in a budget shortfall of $291,817 that would need to be covered by a 3.91 percent tax increase in order to return a balanced budget for 2022.

During discussion at the Feb. 15 council meeting, councillors voted 6-1 to support a 5 percent increase instead, with the difference of a little over $81k to go towards a reserve fund for affordable housing support.

At the Feb. 22 meeting, councillors voted instead to put that money into unallocated reserves while staff researched where the funds could go in terms of how it could be ear-marked for specific causes and where in reserves it was placed. Housing affordability support remained the top concern, while childcare support was also raised as an issue requiring another reserve fund, and as a potential recipient of part of the $81k raised through the higher tax increase.

According to a staff presentation, the increase of 5 percent in taxes results in a net annual increase of $118.15 in property taxes for a house assessed at $619,538 (the average value of a Fernie property) in 2021, for a total municipal property tax of $2,481.23.

READ MORE: Fernie opts for 5 percent tax increase for 2022: City budget



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Municipal Government