Frequently Asked Questions – Proposed Budget 2017-2018
Why do I pay taxes to the Islands Trust?
Will there be a tax increase this year?
Why is there an increase in expenses proposed for 2017-2018?
Why is Trust Council proposing a temporary Senior Freshwater Specialist position?
How can Islands Trust achieve zero tax increase if expenses are going up in 2017-2018?
What services does my island get from the Islands Trust?
What portion of my tax dollars go to the Islands Trust Fund?
What other agencies provide services on my island?
What new spending is Islands Trust proposing for 2016-2017 and why?
How is my property tax calculated?
Bowen Island Municipality
Why has Bowen Island's contribution increased?
What services do Bowen Island residents get for their tax dollars to Islands Trust?
Salt Spring Island
How does the potential Salt Spring Island incorporation affect the 2017-2018 budget?
Why are Salt Spring Island taxpayers paying a special tax?
Who is involved in the budget planning at Islands trust?
What is the budget process at the Islands Trust?
Q: Why do I pay taxes to the Islands Trust?
The Islands Trust is one of the many agencies providing services on your island.
The Province of B.C. established the Islands Trust in 1974 to protect island communities, culture and environment from over development, for the benefit of island residents and the province.
The Islands Trust achieves its purpose through land use planning and regulation, collaboration with residents and agencies, advocacy and land conservation. Your tax dollars also provide a unified voice to advocate for the interests of islanders and island ecosystems to other levels of government and industry.
Q: Will there be a tax increase this year?
The Islands Trust is proposing no increase in revenue from property taxes this year. Your share of the revenue that supports the Islands Trust may go up or down depending on where you live and changes you made to your property. The Islands Trust’s revenues from property taxes have been steady since 2011. Please see the question “How is my property tax calculated” for more information.
Q: Why is there an increase in expenses proposed for 2017-2018?
In September 2015, following public input, the Islands Trust Council adopted its Strategic Plan for 2014–2018 and in 2017-2018 proposes to spend a total of $213,000 on the related projects below.
Review of Victoria office location ($40,000)
In 2015, the Islands Trust Council appointed a Select Committee of trustees and staff to review the location of the Victoria office. Once the committee has reviewed all options, it will present its findings to the Islands Trust Council, along with recommendations on the option that best meets the needs of all the islands.
Engagement with communities, First Nations and other levels of government to identify how to update the Policy Statement ($58,000)
The Islands Trust Council decided in December 2015 to perform a targeted update of the Islands Trust Policy Statement. There are significant costs involved in engaging throughout the Trust Area with communities, First Nations and other levels of government, to identify how to update the Policy Statement.
Housing needs assessment ($40,000)
In response to public requests during the 2014-2018 strategic planning process for a focus on housing, the Islands Trust Council hosted a well-attended community housing forum in 2016 to share information and discuss shared challenges and solutions for community housing across our islands. In December 2016, Trust Council amended its 2014-2018 Strategic Plan to include creation of one or more regional housing needs assessment(s) in 2017-2018. Housing needs assessments provide baseline information essential to advancing and implementing affordable housing policies.
Research and advocacy for freshwater and marine conservation ($25,000)
In response to public requests during the 2014-2018 strategic planning process for a focus on freshwater and marine conservation, Trust Council will support education and advocacy projects in 2017-2018.
Technology to support electronic meetings ($30,000)
In 2016, Trust Council amended its Meeting Procedures Bylaw to enable trustees to attend Trust Council meetings remotely. In 2017-2018, the Islands Trust will improve its electronic meeting technology to support trustee participation in meetings via videoconferencing.
Records classification project phase 2 – electronic documents ($20,000)
This project is part of the overall records management project to align industry best practices for records management with Islands Trust’s legislative requirements. Phase 1 involved classifying, organizing and transferring paper records. Phase 2, the Electronic Document Management project, will position Islands Trust to better-manage electronic records.
Q: Why is Trust Council proposing a temporary Senior Freshwater Specialist position?
Trust Council is proposing a one-year temporary freshwater specialist position in its 2017-2018 budget to help respond to increasing concerns about the quality and quantity of freshwater and to help Trust Council better understand and collaborate on these issues. The $94,000 proposed increase to pay for the position will be funded through the General Revenue Surplus Fund and will not have a direct impact on taxes.
Q: How can Islands Trust achieve zero tax increase if expenses are going up in 2017-2018?
The proposed 2017-2018 budget includes a 5.3 per cent increase in expenses over 2016-2017 budget. This increase will fund a proposed new temporary freshwater specialist position, transition costs if Salt Spring incorporates and a number of island and Strategic Plan projects.
The Islands Trust Council’s General Revenue Surplus Fund Policy allows unspent funds from a previous fiscal year to be used in a future year to fund significant or unexpected expenses. Islands Trust also receives grant revenue.
If Trust Council approves the use of the Surplus Fund, it will leave a balance in the Surplus Fund of nearly $2 million or 108 per cent of the minimum level recommended in the policy.
Q: What services does my island get from the Islands Trust?
The Islands Trust balances the need to preserve the environment with the economic, housing, cultural and social needs of the residents through planning and regulating land use, managing development and through educating and collaborating with residents and agencies.
The Islands Trust provides land use planning and bylaw enforcement (through local trust committees), land conservation (through the Islands Trust Fund) and trust-wide policy advice and advocacy (through Islands Trust Council).
Local trust committees make decisions about land use planning in their local trust areas, which can include multiple islands. Islands Trust staff support the local trust committees with:
- Long term community planning – includes the official community plans, policies and vision for each island
- Land use regulations – that implement the community vision through land use bylaws and regulations, including enforcement of the bylaws
- Development management – development applications and involves any changes to the regulations, such as rezoning, temporary use permits or development area permits for new use of land
Bowen Island Municipality does its own long term community planning, land use regulations and development management - all with oversight of the Islands Trust Council.
Q: What portion of my tax dollars go to the Islands Trust Fund?
In 2017-2018, the Islands Trust proposes to allocate seven per cent ($526,000) of its budget to the operations of a land conservancy called the Islands Trust Fund. The Islands Trust Fund has its own board and staff who work with private landowners and conservancy partners to protect ecosystems in the Salish Sea. The Islands Trust Fund protects more than 1,100 hectares of land in 73 conservation covenants and 26 nature reserves. Land is purchased using only donations and grants.
Q: What other agencies provide services on my island?
In the Islands Trust Area (comprised of 13 major and 450 smaller islands), there are seven regional districts, two health authorities and several provincial agencies providing services such as roads, hospitals, fire protection, policing, libraries, solid waste, sewage, water, parks and recreation, subdivision approvals, building permits and building inspections (on some islands).
On Bowen Island, many of the services are provided by the Bowen Island Municipality.
Services offered by a regional district vary from island to island. Learn more about other jurisdictions offering services in the Islands Trust Area.
Q: What new spending is Islands Trust proposing for 2016-2017 and why?
In September 2015, following public input, the Islands Trust Council adopted its Strategic Plan for 2014–2018 and proposes to spend a total of $145,000 on the related projects below.
Review of Victoria office location ($35,000)
The Islands Trust Council has appointed a Select Committee of trustees and staff to review the location of the Victoria office. Once the committee has reviewed all options, it will present its findings to the Islands Trust Council, along with recommendations on the option that best meets the needs of all the islands. It is too early to say what, if any, savings or service improvements could result from such a move.
Produce a report on the state of the islands ($35,000)
The Islands Trust Council agreed in December 2015 to perform a targeted update of the Policy Statement in 2016-17 and 2017-18 and to adopt a Trust-wide vision statement. The “State of the Islands” report would provide a baseline of important indicators against which to measure change over time. This baseline would be an essential resource for a public visioning process for what the Islands Trust Area would be like in 2050.
Develop a vision and identify which Policy Statement topics to update ($47,000)
The Islands Trust Council decided in December 2015 to perform a targeted update of the Islands Trust Policy Statement and to adopt a Trust-wide vision statement. There are significant costs involved in engaging throughout the Trust Area with communities, First Nations and other levels of government, while developing the vision statement and selecting which policy statement topics to update or add.
Housing needs assessment ($18,000)
In response to public requests during the 2014-2018 strategic planning process for a focus on housing, the Islands Trust Council decided to host a community housing forum to: share information on affordable housing approaches throughout the Trust Area; create linkages between agencies, individuals, and community groups working on housing solutions; identify opportunities and challenges to meeting Trust Area community housing needs and make recommendations for improving Islands Trust’s ability to meet community housing needs across the Trust Area.
Water conservation project ($10,000)
In response to public requests during the 2014-2018 strategic planning process for a focus on water, the Islands Trust Council decided to support a new project to advocate and conduct public education on water conservation on the islands.
Q: How is my property tax calculated?
Local Trust Areas
The amount of tax charged on a property in a local trust area depends on four factors: the assessed value, the mill rate, the type of property and the amount of tax revenue the Islands Trust Council needs from the Province (called the requisition amount) to fulfil its mandate.
The requisition amount ($7.7 million proposed for 2017-2018) will be divided by the total assessed value of all properties in the Islands Trust Area, (except Bowen Island) to develop a mill rate (the amount of tax payable per $1,000 of the assessed value of the property). The same mill rate is applied to every taxpayer in all local trust areas.
The classification of each property also affects the tax rate. In local trust areas, properties classified as residential, farm and recreation pay the same rate. Properties classified as business, managed forest, utilities and light and major industry pay more, based on multiples set by the Province.
Although Islands Trust is proposing no increase in revenue from property taxes this year from local trust areas the amount you pay in 2017 may go up or down depending where you live and changes you made to your property.
Unlike other local governments, the Islands Trust does not directly collect property tax. The Provincial Surveyor of Taxes sets the rates and collects the tax from Trust Area taxpayers based on the revenue that the Islands Trust Council requests.
Bowen Island Municipality
Each year, for Bowen Island, Islands Trust staff use the formula established by provincial legislation and Islands Trust Policy 7.2.vi. Municipal Tax Requisition Calculation to calculate the municipality’s tax contribution towards the cost of operations of Trust Council and the Trust Fund Board. Islands Trust reviews this calculation with the Bowen Island Municipality before requisitioning the amount from Bowen Island Municipality.
Special Property Tax Requisitions
Islands Trust Policy 6.3.ii Special Property Tax Requisition allows an individual local trust committee to request a special property tax for additional operations that are not included in the general operations of all local trust committees. Once approved by Trust Council, a requisition is made by Islands Trust to the Surveyor of Taxes who will calculate a mill rate for the additional tax requisition for taxpayers within that specific local trust area ($98,500 proposed for Salt Spring Island in the 2017-2018 budget proposal). The same mill rate is applied to every taxpayer in that local trust area.
For questions about your property assessment, you can call the number on your property assessment notice or visit the B.C. Assessment Authority website.
Bowen Island Municipality
Q: Why has Bowen Island's contribution increased
Before Bowen Island’s incorporation as an island municipality, the Province set a formula to calculate island municipalities’ contribution to the cost of operations of Trust Council and the Trust Fund Board.
A key factor in that formula is the proportion of assessed property values in an island municipality in relation to the rest of the Trust Area. This year, Bowen Island’s percentage of total assessed property values in the Trust Areas increased from 16.2 per cent to 18.7 per cent. As a result, if the 2017–2018 proposed budget is approved, property owners from Bowen Island would together contribute a total of over $253,000, an increase of about $30,000 over 2016–2017.
Bowen Island taxpayers’ membership in the Islands Trust federation supports a suite of federation-wide activities including a unified voice to advocate for the interests of islanders and island ecosystems to other levels of government.
Q: What services do Bowen Island residents get for their tax dollars to Islands Trust?
Since 1974, Bowen Island has belonged to the federation of islands supported by the Islands Trust whose mandate is to preserve the communities, culture and environment of the islands within the Salish Sea.
Bowen Island benefits from all the Trust-wide programs sponsored by the Islands Trust Council such as land conservation, policy advice and advocacy. Members of the Islands Trust federation present a unified voice to advocate for the interests of islanders and island ecosystems to other levels of government and industry.
Salt Spring Island
Q: How does the potential Salt Spring Island incorporation affect the 2017-2018 budget?
If Salt Spring Island incorporates, the Islands Trust will receive revenues at pre-incorporation levels from the new island municipality for a three-year period. However, Islands Trust will incur some costs during the transition process. The Islands Trust 2017-2018 proposed budget includes $100,000, which is expected in the form of a grant from the Province, for these costs.
If Salt Spring Island incorporates, the Islands Trust Council will use the information in its Transition Plan to make decisions on how to balance taxes and service delivery while delivering its provincial mandate. The Transition Plan is available here. Email comments are welcome to email@example.com.
Why are Salt Spring Island taxpayers paying a special tax?
For the fourth consecutive year, the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee has requested a Special Property Tax Requisition — a tax that only property owners in the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Area would pay — of $98,500. The money is for ongoing co-ordination support for the agencies involved in improving the health of the watershed and water quality on the island.
More information is available in the form of questions and answers.
Q: Who is involved in the budget planning at Islands trust?
The annual budget planning process at the Islands Trust starts with islanders who take the time to tell trustees and staff what matters to them, locally and Trust Area-wide.
The Financial Planning Committee is responsible for drafting the annual budget, collating public input and making recommendations to the Trust Council, which approves the budget in March each year.
Q: What is the budget process at the Islands Trust?
The table below helps explain the annual budget planning process, timeline and individuals and groups involved in this year’s process:
| Aug 24, 2016
|| The Financial Planning Committee (FPC) reviewed draft budget assumptions and principles.
Staff reviewed the detailed budget based on previous year spending, future work programs, Strategic Plan initiatives and for consistency with the Islands Trust Act and the Policy Statement. Senior staff reviewed the budget to look for opportunities to incorporate efficiencies and savings within the organization.
The Trust Fund Board and the local trust committees (LTCs) provided their project needs and passed any resolutions required to adopt/modify their budget proposals. Under Policy 6.3.ii LTCs may make Special Property Tax Requisitions, which permits an individual local trust committee to request a special property tax for additional operations that are not included within the general operations of all local trust committees. Salt Spring Island made a request under this policy.
| Oct 19, 2016
|| The Financial Planning Committee reviewed and discussed the first draft of the budget.
| Nov 16, 2016
|| The Financial Planning Committee approved the proposed budget and budget assumptions.
| Dec 7, 2016
|| Trust Council amended and gave direction to Financial Planning Committee on the proposed budget for public input
| Jan 17, 2017
|| The Financial Planning Committee met to approve the public consultation package, including any last minute changes to the proposed budget.
| Jan 20, 2017
|| The public is invited to review and send feedback on the proposed budget.
| Feb 10, 2017
|| Deadline for public input
| Feb 28, 2017
The Financial Planning Committee reviews the public input and discusses any changes, if needed, to the proposed budget.
The Financial Planning Committee forwards the proposed budget with recommendations to Trust Council about the property tax requisition, the Bowen Island Municipality tax levy and any local trust committee special tax requisitions.
| Mar 15, 2017
Trust Council considers the Financial Planning Committee's recommendations and all public input at its quarterly business meeting (March 14-16, 2017 on Gabriola Island).
Trust Council may consider amendments to the proposed budget up to the time it adopts a final budget bylaw, which is expected to happen on the afternoon of March 15th. Trust Council also passes formal resolutions to direct the preparation of the associated financial plan and revenue anticipation borrowing bylaws.
Staff forward financial plan and revenue anticipation borrowing bylaws to the Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development for approval.