On March 25, the SCRD board endorsed its 2021 budget, solidifying this year’s property tax rate increases of between 5.5 and 24.5 percent. Area A (Pender Harbour) will see the largest percentage increase on the SCRD portion of 2021 property tax bills. Increases for the remaining areas, with the exception of Island jurisdictions, will be between nine and 12 percent over 2020 levels.
In addition to increased revenue from property taxes, the SCRD will be receiving an additional $241,000 in COVID-19 Safe Restart funding. At the meeting, the board received correspondence dated March 21 from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs detailing the three streams of federal/provincial pandemic recovery money distribution. The letter stated, “the Province is now in a position to allocate the remaining $10 million to continue to support local service providers.” The SCRD was awarded $521,000 from this funding source in November 2020.
SCRD Chief Administrative Officer Dean McKinley noted that the timing of the announcement did not allow staff an opportunity to recalibrate the 2021 budget. He advised the board that it will allow for the examination of new opportunities for 2022. That could include mitigation of property taxation impacts in that year’s budget.
Chairperson Lori Pratt expressed appreciation for the additional Restart funding while noting that the amounts provided to BC Regional Districts remain lower than those provided to municipalities.
Regional District staff are planning an early launch to public engagement on spending plans for 2022. With the ink barely dry on the 2021 budget bylaw, board members gave their general approval to a plan to begin consultation on its next budget this June.
Earlier on March 25, the SCRDs elected officials met as the Regional Hospital Board and approved a 1.48 percent increase in the 2021 tax rate charged for that service. That adjustment will result in $9.30 being charged on each $100,000 of assessed property value to help fund hospital services. Connie Jordison