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SCRD talks tax and fee increases

SCRD talks tax and fee increases

Sechelt Area Director Alton Toth is eager to talk with the community about the 2021 SCRD budget focusing on property tax dollar changes rather than percentage increases. “The SCRD portion of my property tax bill was $187 last year. If that has to go up $20 or $30, not a big deal,” said Toth. He feels approaching communications about tax adjustments on that basis is better than talking about a 15 percent increase, which he said sounds “quite horrific.” Along with normal inflationary increases, the SCRD is facing higher costs in 2021 related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the board’s ambitious strategic plan.
In a pre-budget presentation at an SCRD committee meeting on Nov. 5 and 6, staff presented early estimates for 2021 SCRD tax and fee increases. The amounts were forecast to go up over 2020 levels by between $74 and $336 for the average residential property. Those numbers represent increases of between 11 and 16 percent.
Rural properties would see the higher level increases. Properties within municipal jurisdictions would see lower SCRD charge increases. They could also face adjustments from their local taxation authorities. Local government taxes make up a portion of total property tax bills. School taxes and levies from local fire protection districts, as well as other provincial authorities, make up the remainder.
Over 12 hours of meetings on the two days, the Corporate and Administrative Services Committee reviewed over 200 projects that staff had proposed be included in 2021 budgets and work plans. The costs of undertaking all would be over $25 million. Taking on all of the proposals would also require the SCRD to increase staffing by 7.79 people in the year
The committee recommended that most projects be forwarded to round one 2021 budget discussions, which are scheduled for February. These included proposals to staff half time Assistant Fire Chief positions in Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay. In addition, a plan to add extended health, dental and insurance benefits for volunteer firefighters received support at the committee
During the Nov. 5 meeting session, the committee recommended that 2021 budget proposals from all 18 community partners and stakeholders also go to round one debate. These groups include the area’s libraries, community schools, archives and museums, as well as Sunshine Coast Tourism and the Coast Cultural Alliance.
Public consultation on the SCRD’s 2021 budget is slated to begin later this month.
Connie Jordison

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