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Provincial COVID-19 dollars could help keep local tax hike at bay; decision Wednesday

A $6.1 million cash injection from the province to help offset COVID-19 losses could mean the difference between Prince George residents seeing their taxes increase this year … or not.

After going through a proposed city budget Monday that would have seen a two per cent tax hike in 2021, council decided to delay making its final budget decision until Wednesday.

The extra time will give council a chance to look at the 40-odd individual line items in the budget and whether it wants to use about half of the Safe Restart funds.

A taxation increase of $2,261,442 is required to maintain core service levels and funding for

contractual commitments, according to a budget report presented to council. The combined total taxation increase for 2021 is proposed to be $3,533,261, which equates to a two per cent increase. This increase includes an estimated offset of $1,271,129 in non-market change tax revenue.

On a quarterly basis, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General transfers 10 per cent of net casino revenues from the Treasure Cove Casino to the City; annual reporting on the use of these funds is required. The 2021 gaming revenue budget has been estimated at zero as casinos have been closed due to ongoing public health orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. This will represent a loss to reserves for general capital projects and gaming of approximately $2.6 million in 2021.

The province provides a share of the traffic fine revenue that is earned within the municipal boundary; these funds are allocated to the general operating fund to offset policing costs. The grant is estimated at $1 million for 2021, which is the same as the budgeted amount in 2020.

Council will be back at it on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.


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