The City of Trail residents were undercharged on their property taxes this year due to a clerical error.
A mistake was made in the amount collected by the city on behalf of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, resulting in a shortfall of $630,000, or two per cent of the city’s total taxes for 2023.
The city says on the average single-family dwelling, which was $388,000 in 2023, property owners were undercharged by $94, or 24 cents per $1,000 of assessed values. For businesses, it resulted in an undercharge of 59 cents per $1,000 of assessment.
To ensure the RDKB received the correct amount to be collected for 2023, the city paid in full by using its general surplus funds to cover the shortfall. The city will recover these funds from taxpayers as part of the 2024 property tax calculations.
“I sincerely apologize for the error and the inconvenience,” chief administrator and chief financial officer Colin McClure said in a news release.
“It is my responsibility to ensure these tax calculations are correct, and I deeply regret not identifying this mistake. I want to assure Trail taxpayers that we have instituted additional safeguards and enhanced checks to prevent the recurrence of such miscalculations in the future.”
In a follow-up interview, McClure said the city discovered the mistake when it went to pay its annual requisition. They consulted with the provincial government and found they can’t fix the mistake before next year because rates had to be finalized by May 15.
McClure said it was simply human error during a busy time.
“It’s not very common at all, but it does happen,” he said, pointing to a similar situation in North Vancouver this year, where a clerical error resulted in the city overbilling residents $75,000 for BC Assessment charges.
“It’s super unfortunate. It’s embarrassing, it’s [a] reputational risk, it’s the sort of thing you never want to see happen, but we know we can rectify it and we will do so.”