Nanaimo city council previously voted in favour of a budget with a 4.5-per cent property tax increase, and that tax rate has now been adopted.
Council adopted a 2020 property tax rates bylaw and a 2020-24 financial plan bylaw at its meeting May 11, both by 7-2 votes.
Staff had presented councillors with options to draw from reserves to limit the property tax increase to 3.8 per cent or one per cent, but council chose to stick with its previously adopted budget and adjusted 4.5-per cent increase.
Coun. Don Bonner and Coun. Jim Turley voted against the tax rates bylaw and financial plan.
“I believe that this is a good financial plan, it’s just the wrong time for it,” said Bonner, who had asked council to set an example by trimming the tax increase in a time when residents are facing financial pressures.
At a virtual press conference the next day, Mayor Leonard Krog noted that any borrowing in the financial plan falls within the city’s balanced budget.
“We have sufficient revenues to meet those payments, that’s all part of the budgeting process,” he said.
Asked if the city would consider adjusting timelines and prioritization of capital projects, the mayor said “everybody believes in saving and spending carefully, but they want the [money] spent on those things that are important to them.”
Krog said capital construction “contributes the most return to the local economy in terms of employment, re-investment and taxation revenue for all levels of government.”
The 4.5-per cent tax increase is comprised of a 3.5-per cent property tax rate increase and one per cent directed to the general asset management reserve. According to a city press release, the 3.5 per cent increase adds $95 per year in property taxes for a typical household in Nanaimo.
“The funded 2020-2024 financial plan enables the city to provide the residents of Nanaimo with essential municipal services and infrastructure along with a strong capital program that will contribute to sustained and accelerated economic recovery,” said Laura Mercer, city director of finance, in a press release.
Tax notices will be mailed this month.