Last week, the Island Trust approved a requisition of $329,634 from Bowen Island for its 2019/20 Property Tax Levy.
This amount is derived from a formula established by provincial legislation and Island Trust policy. This process has been in effect since we became a municipality in 1999 and to date amounts to $4,422,000 requisitioned from Bowen Island.
The 2019/20 levy represents a 12 per cent increase over our $293,933 requisition for the current year, which in turn represented a 21 per cent increase over the 2018 requisition of $242,680. Since 2017, our levy has increased by 35 per cent.
As one of your Islands Trust trustees I would like to comment on some frequently asked questions.
Do we have to pay this amount, or can we appeal?
The short answer is no, we cannot appeal. Current legislation provides for no independent appeal process of the annual levy. Bowen Council has unanimously voted to have Islands Trust review the requisition.
Why has this requisition not attracted more comments before now?
When broken down for each Bowen household, the levy amounts to between approximately $60 and $250 on your Annual Property Tax Notice (sitting between “Translink” and “Garbage Parcel Tax”) and is likely not an item most taxpayers would dwell on. However, an increase of over 35 per cent since 2017 has caught the attention of many.
Over the term of this current council –simply multiplying the 2019/20 levy by four – Bowen will submit over $1,300,000 to the Trust. What value will we get in return?
That is indeed the question. The Trust has its devotees and detractors and many shades of opinion in between. Those satisfied with the status quo believe that Bowen Islanders and their elected council require an additional level of oversight and that this justifies our annual levy to the Trust. Others have concerns about the current situation given the amount and general fairness relative to other islands without municipalities. Some have pointed out that Bowen’s requisition could service a 30-year principal and interest loan of $6,000,000, which in turn could be applied to one or more of the community’s projects.
I have voiced my strong concerns to the Trust regarding the dramatic escalation in Bowen’s annual levy and my dissatisfaction with the current financial arrangement, one I believe is fundmentally unfair to Bowen. For those who are also concerned, please send me an email to join an ever growing list. firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor, Bowen Island
Municipal Trustee, Islands Trust