Westbank First Nation sets 2017-18 budget

Westbank First Nation Council gave final approval to the 2017 - 2018 annual budget on Monday, March 27.   

Prior to final approval by Council, the local government and property tax budget was accepted and recommended to Council by the WFN Advisory Council, representing approximately 9,000 residents on WFN lands.

This year's property taxation revenue is projected at $13.8 million, up from $13.3 million in 2016. The average residential property taxpayer on WFN lands will pay $1,797 in 2017, an increase of $52 or 3.0 percent over 2016. An average homeowner grant of $402 will reduce taxes payable to $1,395. 

Property taxes paid to WFN will be spent on the following:
-Protective Services (Fire protection, Law enforcement ) - $1.9 M
-Local Services (Transit, Regional Parks, Community centres, Library) - $1.9 M
-Recreation and Youth programs - $0.6 M
-Financial reserves (Capital project and Contingency reserves) - $1.8 M
-Community Development (Engineering, Planning, Public works) - $1.5 M
-General Government (Administration, Governance, Finance) - $4.5 M 
-Homeowner Grants - $1.7 M 

The most recent data from BC Assessment showed new construction of $21.2 million or 1.4 percent growth, while market value increased by 8.19 percent. There were 4,226 residences on the assessment role up from 4,179 last year and 4,095 in 2015. These along with approximately 400 businesses add up to over $1.6 billion in total assessed taxable property. By this measure, WFN ranks approximately 58th amongst 162 registered municipalities in BC. 

Under the WFN property tax by-laws, property tax rates and expenditure by-laws are submitted for review to the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC), a Federal body. The FNTC reviews the budget and rates to ensure they are reasonable and equitable, and then refers them to the Federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development for final approval. The rates and budget are fully authorized upon Ministerial approval. 

Property tax notices are scheduled to be mailed in late May and the final deadline for payment without penalty will be July 4th.