By Tim Kalinowski on November 28, 2020.
After a difficult week of deliberations, the Finance Committee of city council was able to meet its target of a zero-per-cent municipal property tax increase for 2021 and 2022 while holding the line on fees and utility rates.
While city council cannot guess what the provincial government may do in terms of its portion of the rate of taxation on local property taxes next year, at least from the City’s perspective, stated Deputy Mayor and Finance Committee chair Rob Miyashiro, councillors found ways to absorb previously budgeted municipal tax increases largely by finding spending cuts within City departments and the police service.
“It was a long week,” he said, “but my colleagues on Finance Committee worked hard. They asked great questions. The deliberations were pretty on point. What we did for the community this week is unprecedented, and I think more people need to understand that.
“We have never done a budgeting process like this where we had to start taking away. We have always had a budgeting (process) where we have added to.”
Miyashiro said he is particularly pleased the cuts approved this week consciously limited their impacts on residents. Miyashiro credited his colleagues for their sensitivity to the needs of the community at large as they went through the budgeting process despite the challenging financial pressures the City is going through at the moment.
“The exercise in all these different (City) business units was to find five- or 10-per-cent (reductions),” he said. “They didn’t say find five or 10 everyone can live with. So if they find a five- or 10-per-cent reduction that might affect taxation, might affect people, might affect service — that wasn’t the ask. This was a (broad) financial ask, and council had to make those decisions on whether they could live with the impact of that cut on the community.”
A budget document for 2021 and 2022 will be submitted for final debate and ratification during Monday’s city council meeting.
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