COURTENAY, B.C- A property tax freeze could be in the works for Courtenay residents.

During tonight’s meeting of Courtenay city council, mayor Larry Jangula will be introducing a motion aimed at stopping a planned increase for taxes in the community. The topic was previously discussed at the last meeting of city council, where council gave first approval to user fee increases and higher frontage fees.

The pair of cost increases were listed as a 10 per cent user fee increase for the water fund, as well as a 25 per cent increase to frontage fees for capital needs in the same fund. The sewer fund also saw a 10 per cent user fee increase, with no change in frontage fees.

According to the council agenda, a single-family residence with an average frontage of 21.83 metres will see a combined annual increase of $67.85 in water costs. For sewer costs, user fees are increasing from $294.70 to $324.17, with the frontage fee remaining constant at $10.24 per metre.

While there was lengthy discussion around the council table on the item, the pair of raises were passed through first reading on Feb.5, 2018. At the time, Jangula indicated he had been reluctant to give that first approval.

Now, the mayor is looking to stop those planned raises.

In a motion planned for tonight’s meeting of council, Jangula outlines the plan, with an “immediate tax freeze” at 2017 rates, and the commissioning of a “Core Services Review” by the municipal government, in the name of guidance to reduce costs, find tax savings, and “improve efficiencies” going forward.

In his motion, Jangula describes rising operating expenses for the city, and the expenses of “severely underfunded” planned infrastructure projects for water, sewer and solid waste.

“Many residents of the city of Courtenay are pensioners who are on fixed incomes and will suffer undue hardships if taxes continue to increase at the rates of previous years,” reads Jangula’s motion.

“Courtenay taxpayers are telling us that these tax increases are simply not sustainable. Given the significant property assessment increases and higher interest rates, there is widespread uncertainty and concern throughout our community whether many will be able to manage or survive yet another sizable tax increase this year.”

Council will discuss the motion this evening at City Hall, with the meeting starting at 4:00 p.m.