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Council still pondering whether to use provincial pandemic help to negate 2021 tax increase

Prince George city council approved the 2021 budget Wednesday … more or less.

While the city’s capital and operating budgets were given the green light, a couple of items remain outstanding. And those items, which council will look at February 8, will determine how much, if any, taxes will increase this year.

Council held off on a request from the RCMP detachment to add two training officers. The would cost $96,000 when it starts in late 2021, and $365,000 for the full year in 2022. Council wasn’t necessarily against the plan, but simply would like some more information.

The other outstanding item is possible use of a $6.1 million the city received through the provincial Safe Restart Fund designed to help communities grappling with lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The budgets approved Wednesday, as is, would see the city take another $3,533,261 from residents … a two per cent tax increase.

Using approximately half of the $6.1 million provincial fund could see the city not increase taxes in 2021, which would be the first year in likely a generation where taxes did not increase.

Council, however, seems split on whether to use the money and give taxpayers a break or save the ‘rainy day’ fund for a different rainy day. They will decide February 8.

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