Thanks to a $3.6-million COVID-19 restart grant, projected shortfalls in Oak Bay’s parks, recreation and culture revenues aren’t expected to affect taxpayers in 2021.
The district’s five-year financial plan shows forecasted revenues for the department to drop by $4.2 million due to the pandemic. That number is projected to be offset by a $1.6 million drop in program expenditures, the report stated, and the difference of $2.6 million will be funded for 2021 and 2022 by the grant money.
The uncertainty of the pandemic made projecting longer-term revenues more difficult. Should revenues not rebound quickly in 2022, the report stated, council will need to decide whether to reduce service, increase taxes or fees, or draw on additional reserves.
The draft budget projects a 6.49 per cent property tax increase for 2021. At the March 8 council meeting, director of financial services Chris Paine said it was a result of “reduced revenues, not higher expenses.”
The impact of the 2021 tax increase amounts to approximately $208 more per year for the median value residential property. Subsequent years call for increases of 5.62 per cent ($192) in 2022, and 4.95 per cent in each of 2023 ($179), 2024 ($187) and 2025 ($197).
Mayor Kevin Murdoch said no further changes to the district’s financial plan are expected for 2021, but council will finalize the document over two meetings in late April and early May.