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Time to review 2021 budget

Time to review 2021 budget

“The District should…” Have you ever said that?
Yes, it is that time of year again. We are heading into conversations about the 2021 budget, so now is a good time to review what we have, what we do and what we want.
On behalf of the community in 2020, the District donated $120,000 to local non-profits through our Community Investment Program, $72,400 to Sunshine Coast non-profits as part of our Community Forest Legacy grant program and $50,000 to the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation for COVID-19 relief. In addition to all of this, we also forgave property taxes to non-profits to the tune of $200,000.
Our operating budget in 2020 was just over $13.3 million. About $5.8 million goes to salaries and benefits and another $5.8 for contracted services (includes RCMP), and materials and supplies associated with the District’s ability to operate. Our operations include services like parks, road maintenance, buildings operations and maintenance, community events, equipment maintenance, technology, supplies, sewer operations, storm sewers and other general infrastructure operations.
In addition to our operating budget, we have a capital budget. Some of this budget comes from development cost charges, tax revenue and our reserves, but we actively watch for and apply for grants that are a good fit for the capital projects. Grants make up a very large portion of this budget so we can replace equipment, improve roads, replace sewer lines, and improve our facilities. That few blocks of Trail Avenue we did this year included sidewalk, bike lanes, new sewer lines and repaving, and it cost just over $6.2 million. Most of this expense was covered by Development Cost Charges and the rest from our reserves, but we have applied for a grant to help with the costs of phase two next year.
In the next few weeks, we will start conversations on social media about what we do. There will be information provided on our website and in advertisements in the local paper. We will talk about big picture things and get down to the details like flowerpots and potholes. There will be some surveys and community meetings over Zoom. Unfortunately, there won’t be any meetings in person. We invite you to comment on Facebook, take a survey or just drop us an email to tell us what you think. We hope you will learn more about what your local government does and tell us what you are willing to do without and what you are willing to pay more for. These are YOUR services and YOUR buildings and roads and YOUR taxes. Have your say.
A 1% property tax increase will cost the average property owner $16.20 a year, and it provides the District with about $96,000.
So, the next time you say, “the District should…” think about what it will cost, what you are willing to pay for it or what you would like to do without so we can afford it. We look forward to an interesting and engaging dialogue over the next few months.

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