All SCRD areas except A (Pender Harbour) and F (Howe Sound Islands) saw their estimated 2021 property taxes bump up between the SCRDs first and second-round budget debates. Tax increases over 2020 levels are forecast for all areas as the SCRD board battles costs “to address key infrastructure challenges” in 2021.
The board is slated to rocket from first reading to adoption of the 2021 budget at its March 25 meeting. The amended draft under consideration presents tax increases over the previous year ranging from a high of over 24 percent in Area A to just under five percent for the Islands in Area F. If the draft is adopted without further changes, the regional portion of property taxes for those in Sechelt and the Sechelt Indian Government District would see a just over 10 percent bump. Property owners in Gibsons would be faced with an increase of about 11 percent. Halfmoon Bay property owners would see an increase of about 12 percent. The proposed increase for the Roberts Creek and Howe Sound areas is about 8.8 percent, and the rate for Elphinstone is slated to go up by 9.6 percent.
For a residential property assessed at $500,000, the SCRD portion of 2021 property tax is set to rise from $30 to $266 over 2020 levels, depending on where you live.
In a press release issued 13 days after the end of Round 2 deliberations, SCRD Board Chair Lori Pratt said, “We have heard concerns about tax increases but also that residents do not want any reduction to current service delivery. Whether it’s investments in our volunteer fire departments or investment in key infrastructure such as the Chapman Creek Water Treatment Plant, this budget will allow us the opportunity to build for the future of our region.”
Changes between February’s Round 1 discussions and the draft budget before the board included new emergency additional spending, including $125,000 for a generator for the Sechelt Landfill. In early 2021, the system that provides electrical power to the landfill failed. The facility is operating with a temporary generator.
In addition, the board ratified a four-year collective agreement for its unionized staff on March 11. The agreement will mean an immediate four percent increase to wages. Further wage increases of 2.25 percent in 2022 and 2.5 percent in 2023 have been agreed to. The board also endorsed an updated salary grid for exempt
The new higher rates are to be paid to a staff complement that will grow by 12.65 new positions in 2021 if the draft budget is endorsed.