If you’re new to Salt Spring and have moved from a city or town you may be wondering why you’re suddenly getting a Parcel Tax invoice in February or a bi-monthly water bill when you never received one or the other before at your previous place of residency.
Why is That?
The main reasons for this are that many of Canada’s large municipalities and towns are not on metered water, hence your water consumption bill is part of your yearly tax bill, and your Parcel Tax bill is part of your property tax bill. Sometimes these charges may have been completely hidden on your invoice, and in other places they may show as water and/or sewer. A portion of your provincial property tax would be allocated to a municipality’s infrastructure upkeep, including waterworks, but again it would not necessarily show that on the Tax Statement.
Your annual water consumption was not individually metered so everyone in the city shared the costs with every other household, business, schools, hospitals, parks, etc. You as an individual homeowner or tenant would not see how much water your household actually used and how much it cost. Neither would you be able to determine if any conservation measures you implemented were effective, nor would they lower the cost of your bill.
How It Works Here
Salt Spring Island is divided into 15 water districts. Some are part of the Capital Regional District (CRD), others, including North Salt Spring Waterworks, are independent Improvement Districts or small water societies. Improvement Districts are local government agencies and generally deal with only one or two municipal services. Most commonly water, waste water and fire protection. North Salt Spring Waterworks is an improvement district providing one service only – water.
All our customers have a water meter on their property which is read every two months. The data is then input into our computer system and you receive an invoice based on the amount of water you used/consumed in the previous two months which is then charged according to the rates determined for your customer class – residential, multi-family, commercial, etc. On your invoice is a graph that allows you to see exactly how much water you are using. It allows us to easily hone in on leaks and alert you if we suspect one. Plus it allows us, and you, to better control any conservation measures needed or undertaken.
In a large municipality your Parcel Tax would be part of your overall tax bill. As an Improvement District, under the Local Government Act, and as stipulated in our Letters Patent, the District is granted the power of direct taxation. Therefore that portion of a municipal or provincial tax for water infrastructure that would have been collected by the applicable agency where you previously resided is set and collected by the district. Parcel Tax is billed annually every February.
All new owners are charged a $100 service activation fee on their first water consumption bill. This fee covers the cost of setting up the new accounts for parcel tax and water tolls and dealing with the legalities associated with a property sale.
For those of you who prefer the convenience of receiving your invoices by email, eBilling is now available. If you haven’t already signed up, please fill out the Change of Information Form available online or at our office.
Note: If you now live in the village of Ganges and your property is connected to the sewer system you will also receive a separate invoice from the CRD for sewer usage. It is paid directly to them.