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General News · 11th January 2010
Noba Anderson
If we want core community spaces, we need to support them.

Thanks to past efforts, largely volunteer, we are fortunate to have community halls that serve a broad array of uses and benefit us all. Even people who use our halls less frequently gain by living in a healthy and strong society aided by these spaces. Businesses and other services near the halls also benefit from their proximity to a vibrant community core. However, our halls are aging and the deferred maintenance costs must be addressed and planned for. Operation costs are higher than they were a generation ago and there is not currently the volunteer effort to support the existing needs. Although volunteer time will always be the backbone for these halls, real money is also needed.

Right now, we are in acute jeopardy of loosing the fully serviced and programmed spaces that we have become accustomed to at Manson’s Hall. In light of this, the boards of both the Gorge and Manson’s Halls have requested that the Strathcona Regional District establish a taxation service that is broad enough to support both existing spaces. The two boards agreed that both halls are used by the broad community and therefore felt it appropriate that all Cortes tax payers support them both. Only the Southern Cortes Community Association (SCCA) is currently in need of these requested funds, however, the Whaletown Community Club would like the ability to opt in over time as needed.

Work on this concept was started in 2007 by your previous regional director, Jenny Hiebert. In her last Howling Wolf article in November of 2008, she emphasized that this issue needed further attention. In my July 2009 Discover Islander article I again brought up this item, sharing with you that all other community halls in the Comox-Strathcona region are supported through taxation and that I would soon be asking you to consider the same for Cortes. Here we are. The question has been called, and it is up to you.

Do you want your property tax dollars to support your community spaces?

If you do want to support the halls in this way, take no action - your silence will be counted as support. If you do not, fill out an elector response form available at Cortes post offices and on the SRD website before February 15th.

Questions?
The SCCA is holding an evening meeting to further discuss this option.
Manson’s Hall, Wed. January 20, 7:30


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FOLLOW THE $$$

Q. Will my tax bill go up by 50˘ per $1,000 assessed
property value if this service is approved?

A. NO!


About $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed Cortes property value (under a third of property taxes) goes to support the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) operations. The remainder funds schools, libraries, police, hospitals and the Province. Of that SRD money, almost half of it funds solid waste services and the fire department. The other half, which totals about $300,000 per year, funds all other regional services; planning, parks, 911, emergency preparedness, grant-in-aids, admin, electoral area funds & election services. A $300,000 Cortes property with a home owners grant pays about $350 per year for all its SRD services. This proposed hall service would create one more pot for those tax funds to be distributed into.

Most SRD services have a fixed legal tax maximum. These caps (maximum levies) are quite commonly set well above the actual taxed amount (see below). The hall service proposal before you is no different. This allows the SRD flexibility from year to year to meet needs as they arise. However, total taxation is generally quite steady. The addition of this service would NOT necessarily lead to higher taxes. This year Cortes opted out of three services that were not serving us well (soil deposit & removal, liquid waste management & pesticide awareness) and 1 additional service is being proposed.

The proposed maximum hall tax requisition is the greater of 50˘ per $1,000 or $160,000 of real property assessment. These two figures currently total the same amount. However, what Manson’s Hall is currently requesting is about a third of that. Having the higher tax ceiling in the initial enabling legislation allows the service to increase its funds in the future if that is the community’s will.


Other Community Halls with Regional Tax Services


Community / Max Levy / 2009 Max Requisition / 2009 Taxation

Quadra / 50˘ per $1,000 / $282,961 / $98,110
Sayward / $1.75 per $1,000 / $94,254 / $26,500
Kyuquot / 50˘ per $1,000 / $6,085 / $303
Hornby / Greater of 16˘ per $1,000 or $20,000 / $77,092 / $56,183
Denman / Greater of 16˘ per $1,000 or $14,620 / $55,676 / $35,244


If this current proposal is rejected, I do not see how Manson’s Hall could provide the space and services in 2010 that you have come to expect. The choice is yours.


Noba Anderson,
Regional Director, Cortes Island