The Town of Sidney will receive $2.75 million in direct grant support from the provincial government to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report before council Monday recommends a “cautious and measured approach” in using the funds. (Black Press Media File)

The Town of Sidney will receive $2.75 million in direct grant support from the provincial government to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A report before council Monday recommends a “cautious and measured approach” in using the funds. (Black Press Media File)

Staff suggest Sidney be cautious spending $2.75 million from province

Staff also warn of financial ‘uncertainty’ and raise prospect of tax increase

Sidney council signed off on a report recommending a “cautious and measured approach” spending a provincial grant worth more than $2.75 million. The report also raised the possibility of unspecified tax increases in 2021 against the backdrop of “uncertainty around the financial impacts of COVID-19.”

The report prepared by Andrew Hicik, Sidney’s director of corporate services, makes four recommendations around the use of the funds that the municipality received under a federal-provincial designed to help communities recover from the effects of COVID-19.

Of the four recommendations, the first two appear to be more substantial, with Hicik recommending the municipality allocate $650,000 to make up for lost revenues and costs incurred in 2020.

The second recommendation calls on council to “tentatively set aside” $550,000 of the grant to maintain the current level of tax reductions for 2021.

This spring Sidney reversed plans to increase general property tax by 1.79 per cent as a response to the effects of COVID-19. They also cut taxes for business properties by 10 per cent. The cuts have become the starting rates for 2021 budget discussions, which also loom large in Hicik’s report.

He said that this recommendation supplies a “solid starting point” for crafting the 2021 budget. “Knowing that the lost tax revenue will not have to be made up immediately will allow for a measure of continuing tax relief,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney receives more than $2.75M in provincial support to deal with COVID-19 costs

But Hicik’s report also reveals a cautionary note, when he notes that the municipality might need to use more of the grant because the 2021 budget will “likely” require a higher funding level. With 2021 budget yet to be determined, it is “possible that the additional funding would be made up of a combination of tax increases and (grant) funds.”

Hicik added additional recommendations will come forward during the budget process.

The two other recommendations call on council to set aside the remaining grant funds — almost $1.56 million — for 2021 budget discussions.

RELATED: Sidney council makes 2020 business tax cuts permanent heading into 2021

Hicik also recommends the municipality hold off on reviewing its overall tax policies until the 2021 tax rates are set.

“Unfortunately, the uncertainty around the financial impacts of COVID-19 is adding an additional layer of complexity to an already difficult topic,” he said. “Given that [council] has made the important commitment to use 2020 tax rates and multiples as a starting point for 2021 — as well as the fact that we now have access to the [grant] — staff are recommending that the policy review be put on hold until next spring.”

The Canada-BC Safe Restart Agreement distributed $425 million in direct grants to local governments across British Columbia to deal with the impacts of COVID-19, as well as cover safe reopening and emergency response costs.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A sketch of the multi-use path that will connect Lagoon Beach and Royal Beach in Colwood. (Sketch courtesy of the City of Colwood)
Concepts for Colwood beach connector coming to council June 21

Major infrastructure project includes gathering places, public amenities and pathways

Victoria police are asking for witnesses who might have information about this tricycle that was stolen in downtown Victoria on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek witnesses after downtown Victoria company’s tricycle stolen

The three-wheeler was taken from the 2100-block of Store Street on Thursday

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: A brief history of Bear Creek Camp

Malahat Logging Company began both Beach Camp and Bear Creek Camp

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read