Sidney residents face what the municipality calls a “modest” hike in revenue from property taxes set to rise 2.7 per cent.
Council approved the municipality’s 2021 financial plan March 2 after approving a second round of amendments following prior changes last month. Budget deliberations had started with a proposed increase 4.45 per cent, a figure that included several items council had not yet approved.
Average residential property owners will see municipal taxes rise by $41 to $1,559 for the year. Individual increases may vary depending on assessment changes relative to the average home assessed at $700,000 and other jurisdictions have not yet finalized their tax charges – accounting for about half of the total tax bill.
Sidney used a combination of measures to cut the tax impact, including the use of additional surplus to reduce the tax, the deferral of a transfer to reserves and the identification of alternate (non-tax) funding for several capital projects.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said the budget takes a “measured approach” in keeping tax impacts low, while maintaining a wide range of services and the long-term financial health of the municipality.
“With the receipt of the $2.7 million in Canada-BC Safe Restarts funds, we are able to mitigate some of the impacts of the pandemic and transition back to normal revenue levels over the next three years,” he said.
This year’s budget unfolds against changes that date back to last year when council rolled back its general property tax increase of 1.79 per cent to zero and gave owners of commercial and light industrial properties a 10 per cent break.
This year’s financial plan sees Sidney raise taxes again while confirming the cut for commercial and industrial light properties.
Sidney’s capital budget includes just under $10 million with $4.4 going toward infrastructure replacements, $1.1 million in sidewalk and pathway improvements and $400,000 toward new washrooms on Sidney’s waterfront and the replacement of existing washroom on Fourth Street. It is not clear when the work on the washrooms will begin.
Notable additions to the operating budget included funding for a new climate action coordinator and on-going support for the on-going Official Community Plan (OCP) review.
Ten non-profit organizations receive almost $1 million, representing eight per cent of the operating budget. Council also approved $60,000 in grants for 2021 and 2022 for the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (Sidney BIA) for business development initiatives and $60,000 from safe restart funds for the development of a long-term economic development strategy.
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