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The Incorporation Study Committee is responsible for:
The Study Committee is very much expected to remain neutral with respect to the governance options. The Committee is not in place to advocate for any particular outcome of the analysis.
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No. If the electors of Sorrento and Blind Bay chose for whatever reason to remain unincorporated, Electoral Area C would be split into two separate electoral areas (i.e., Area C1 and Area C2). The default, "Two Electoral Areas" option was identified by the Electoral Area C Governance Committee at the end of the 2017 South Shuswap Governance Study. This 2017 Committee, comprised of 12 residents from communities throughout Electoral Area C, recommended that Area C be divided into two separate areas in the event that incorporation did not proceed. The recommendation was based on the view that the existing Electoral Area C is too large to be served effectively by only one Electoral Area Director. The CSRD Board and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs endorsed the recommendation.
The Service Sheets that are being developed by the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study Committee for the current Incorporation Study identify the service, governance, and tax impacts that would apply to residents in Areas C1 and C2, in the event that incorporation did not proceed.
As its name suggests, the Incorporation Study is focused primarily on the implications of incorporation for the residents of Sorrento and Blind Bay. In all of the Service Sheets being developed for the study, however, the service, governance, and tax impacts associated with the Two Electoral Areas option are also identified.
It is important to remember that the Two Electoral Areas option — that is, the division of Electoral Area C into two Areas C1 and C2 — is the default option that will occur only if the electors of Sorrento and Blind Bay choose to remain unincorporated.
Every parcel of property in British Columbia is placed by BC Assessment into one property tax class. Residential properties are placed into Class 1; business properties are placed into Class 6. All Class 6 business properties, in electoral areas and municipalities, pay the property tax that is assigned to that class.
A key difference between the business property taxes in electoral areas and municipalities, however, concerns the tax rate. In electoral areas, business pay the Class 6 property tax rate that is identified by the regional district. In every regional district, the Class 6 rate must at a ratio of 2.45 to the Class 1 (residential) rate. Each regional district will determine, for each local service, the Class 1 rate to charge. The business rate is then set automatically using a multiplier of 2.45 on the Class 1 rate. This multiplier, along with multipliers for other classes of non-residential property, is mandated by the province under the Regional District Tax Regulation.
Municipalities have the authority to set not only their own Class 1 (residential) rate, but also all other rates for other classes of property, including Class 6 (business).This authority allows municipal councils to use property taxes as policy tools to pursue different goals. Within the CSRD, different municipalities use different Class 6 multipliers. Sicamous, for example, uses a multiplier of 2.15, whereas Salmon Arm uses a multiplier of 2.82. Revelstoke applies a Class 6 multiplier of 4.93, whereas Golden uses 2.16. A new municipal council for Sorrento-Blind Bay would have the authority to set its own Class 6 property tax rate.
In most municipalities, businesses are required to pay a business license fee in addition to their property tax. Fee levels typically vary based on type of business or other factors — a typical fee is around $100 per year. It has been assumed in the Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study that the new municipality would have a business license function. The CSRD does not have such a service for Electoral Area C.
The Study Committee does need to make assumptions regarding staffing and other costs that would be incurred to enable a new municipality to provide the same range and level services that are provided to Sorrento and Blind Bay today. In all cases, assumptions are suggested by the Committee's consultants based on practices in place in other municipalities, and research on the specific services in question.
In general, the Committee should not make assumptions related to significant changes in the range or levels of service provided, the establishment of major new services or facilities, the withdrawal of the future municipality from inter-governmental cost-sharing arrangements (in cases where such arrangements would not be automatically be rendered unnecessary by a service of the municipality), or major changes to existing land use patterns and development policies. Decisions in these types of instances would be made by, and should be left to, the new municipal council.
All infrastructure costs will be identified in the individual service sheets where relevant. The sheet on Parks and Recreation, for example, contains information on capital reserves that would be used to help fund improvements (e.g., playgrounds) in parks. Future sheets on local roads will include information on road infrastructure improvements that can be anticipated. A future sheet on administration services will address the question of a municipal hall. Sheets do not generally comment on the potential need or desire for new infrastructure projects that are not planned today, or that would result in significant changes to existing service levels. Decisions on these improvements would be decisions for the new council (see the previous question and answer above).
Salary costs for staff who would be involved in the operation of services are included in service costs identified in each of the service sheets. Costs for managers and staff who are needed to administer the municipality (e.g., Chief Administrative Officer, Director of Finance, Receptionist) will be addressed in the sheet on administration. A separate sheet on governance will include salary costs for the mayor and council.