District of Sparwood logo and flag. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

District of Sparwood logo and flag. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Sparwood approves 5.2 percent municipal tax increase for 2022

The increase was driven in large part by large increases from the hospital board and waste management

The District of Sparwood has approved a municipal tax increase of 5.2 percent for 2022, or 5.3 percent overall when including utility rates, which will be going up 5.8 percent.

The increase was approved at the May 3 district council meeting, and was driven in large part by hefty increases in the hospital tax rate and Elk Valley Waste tax rate.

The share of taxes through the regional hospital board’s budget increased by 25.8 percent – or $21.84 for the average Sparwood residence, to $106.44.

Mayor David Wilks explained that much of tax rate hike was due to factors beyond the control of the municipality, but he is chair of the hospital board so could shed some light on why the hospital tax increase was so high.

“In years past, the hospital board wasn’t prudent enough to put in reserve funds for capital projects, and those capital projects are not cheap,” he said.

“A good example is we’re looking at a new oncology ward in Cranbrook … we’re looking at around $60 – 100 million, of which the hospital board is required to provide 40 percent of funding – so $40 million. The Golden Hospital is due for a replacement. (The current hospital) was built in he 1950s on a flood plain of all things , and that replacement is at approximately $100-200 million – there’s another $80 million (from the hospital board). So we need reserve funds and we need them fast.”

The 2022 tax year is expected to be the last year that the regional hospital board ups their tax ask of municipalities to pay for critical infrastructure.

Other items covered under the municipal tax increase are a 14.3 percent increase in the Elk Valley Waste tax rate, or to $149.94 for the average Sparwood household, while water and sewer parcel taxes went up 25.2 percent to $149.

Utilities alone went up 5.8 percent to $860.88 per average household.

Overall, the average assessed Sparwood property valued at $304,140 would pay $3,052.94 in taxes for 2022.

Municipal governments are legislated by the province to balance their budgets to zero every year.

READ MORE: Utility fees in Fernie to increase by an additional 18.4 percent

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