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City budget talks look at 3-5% property tax increase for 2023

Grand Forks is leaning towards a tax increase this year somewhere in the neighbourhood of 3-5 per cent.

City council held a closed door workshop Monday after asking staff late last month for financial scenarios of a three per cent increase.

The request by Coun. Christine Thompson looks at a property tax increase of 3 per cent, electricity rate increases similar to Fortis BC, a water rate increase of 3 per cent and enough of an increase to “break even” on the wastewater budget.

In an interview with Vista Radio, Mayor Everett Baker says council “jelled a bit more” on its common purpose during this week’s workshop.

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“I think we all feel better about the number, where we’re at. I want to try to be fair, respect our citizens. But, you know, inflation is an issue we all face,” Baker said.

As of December 2022, the consumer price index (CPI) was running at 6.3 per cent.

During a January council meeting, Baker said he would not approve a 5-10 per cent increase.

Baker wasn’t comfortable sharing the number arrived at Monday until it’s announced in open council in a couple of weeks – likely Feb. 13.

The mayor says there are mixed views around the council table about justifying an increase from trying not to burden seniors on fixed incomes while others believe the increases haven’t been enough in the past and it’s time to catch up.

But he says he “felt good” after the session.

The financial plan shows a smaller operating surplus compared to 2022 and 3.3 million in capital projects this year. A city staff report says the municipality’s financial position is “satisfactory” and is has a “healthy” and “substantial” accumulated surplus of $10.3 million, which is projected to be drawn down to $8.7 million.

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