2020 City Budget Sets 2.51% Tax Increase and Postpones Late Payment Penalty Dates
DUNCAN – City Council has adopted the 2020 Tax Rates Bylaw and Financial Plan at its meeting Monday, May 4, 2020.
Council and staff have worked diligently to keep the overall increase in taxes collected as low as possible at 2.51%, while maintaining existing City service levels as chosen by the majority of those surveyed in the 2016 and 2019 Citizen Surveys.
COVID-19 has impacted the City’s finances through lost parking revenues, interest revenues, water penalties, as well as increased costs for things such as security. Staff will be reviewing ways to reduce other costs to absorb these impacts without further increasing taxes.
Due to the differences in assessment increases between property classes, the 2.51% increase in taxes collected equates differently depending on the type of property a person owned, and on how much a property’s value increased relative to other properties. The City has attempted to balance the increase between residential and business property classes, resulting in an increase of $36 (2.74%) for the average house valued at $378,799 and an increase of $153 (2.74%) for the average business valued at $622,982. This increase will be offset for business property owners by the provincial government’s reduction to the school taxes, which will reduce the average business property’s overall taxes by approximately 25%.
Duncan Council has also amended the tax penalty date bylaw to apply to all tax classes, which mirrors the provincial government’s change to the penalty date for business property owners, while keeping the City’s normal modified 5% and 5% penalty charges. This means that all residential and business property owners are encouraged to pay their taxes by July 2nd; however, the first 5% penalty will not be applied until October 1st for all amounts outstanding after September 30th, and the second 5% penalty will be applied on November 1st for all amounts outstanding after October 31st.
Many of the City’s large cost projects are partially funded from the Police Bridging Capital Reserve, alleviating the need to borrow funds, while still being able to complete these much-needed projects.
“Council was very thorough in its review of the City’s finances, particularly with respect to COVID-19,” said Mayor Staples. “While we were able to lower the tax increase for 2020, in doing so we had to remain mindful not to put too much pressure on next year’s budget. One way we were able to provide immediate assistance to tax payers was to move the penalty date to October 1st, and to lobby the province for a tax deferment option for those experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 who are not covered in the current provincial deferment programs.”
“The City will continue to work on necessary infrastructure projects in 2020. In addition to these projects, we will work with the residents, businesses and organizations to adapt to the changes we are facing. We will also partner with local leaders and the province to work on the hard issues and pursue initiatives that will build a vibrant future,” Mayor Staples added.
For further information contact:
Bernice Crossman, CPA, CGA
Director of Finance
Previous efforts by the City to support businesses and residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Moved the penalty date for taxes to October 1st for all property owners.
- Waived water penalties for March 31st and April 30th
- Waived parking fees for the months of April and May
- Continually review the business supports available and lobby the provincial government
- Increased daytime and nighttime Bylaw Enforcement patrols throughout the City
- Worked to complete downtown construction projects while a lot of businesses are closed
- Implemented an interim Neighbourhood COVID Watch program
- Implemented a Mayor’s COVID-19 Vulnerable Population Cowichan Task Force
- Implemented a Mayor’s COVID-19 Food Security Task Force
- Continued to provide all City services, some in a modified fashion
- Continued to provide Public Washrooms, with additional cleanings per day
- Lobbied the provincial government to expand the property tax deferral program to those experiencing hardship due to COVID-19
- Reduced Council and staff travel budgets by 50%
- Initiated a COVID-19 grant program