Residents received their tax notices in the mail this past week and must pay by early July. Photo by Shannon Lough

Tax notices are in, and Rupertites are paying more for hospital upgrades

The Northwest Regional Hospital District has increased their taxes by 65 per cent

One of two certainties in life are back again.

Property taxpayers in Prince Rupert have received their bills for the year, due July 4, and a breakdown of how much is collected, and to whom, is provided by the City of Prince Rupert.

This year, the mill rate increased by 1.5 per cent for Rupert taxpayers – a move necessary thanks to a budget deficit of $160,000 this year.

A few factors went into the deficit, including wage and benefits increases, library budget increases, reduction of money kept through the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement with the District of Port Edward and a reduction in airport revenue.

Property taxpayers with an average assessed value of $260,000 will see an increase of $38 to their bill for the city (before BC Assessment value changes).

Property owners may also notice that the Northwest Regional Hospital District has increased their taxes by 65 per cent — from 4.9 per cent in 2016 to 7.1 per cent of the total taxes on their bill to be collected.

This is due to the announced replacement for Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace by the provincial government this spring and the recently built Haida Gwaii Hospital in Queen Charlotte. The hospital district is seeking clarity on how much it needs to contribute to the new Mills Memorial’s completion. Traditionally, the number is 40 per cent of the costs, but the district has proposed only 20 per cent to avoid further strain on northwest B.C. taxpayers.

The Home Owner Grant, provided by the provincial government, is available to applicants to offset some of the taxes owed. Residents can find instructions on how to apply for it in their tax package in the mail or by visiting www.princerupert.ca/ehog

Seniors over the age of 55, parents supporting children under the age of 18, surviving spouses or persons living with disabilities may be eligible to defer paying taxes through the provincial government’s Tax Deferment Program. Taxes due after utilities and the Home Owner Grant are paid and received can be paid for you, but must be reimbursed in the future by the taxpayer. Look for more information in your tax package, at City Hall or at www2.gov.bc.ca

Heading into 2017 and beyond, the primary goals for Prince Rupert mayor and council are stated to be replacing the city’s 100-year-old water supply, creating a long-term revitalization design for the downtown and city-owned waterfront areas, advocating for affordable housing in the region, getting Watson Island back on the tax roll through new industry and continuing repaving projects.

RELATED: City passes 2017 tax increase, but not before taking aim at Province of B.C., District of Port Edward agreements

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