After making several adjustments to bring the overall tax increase down to 2.2 per cent, councillors in Gibsons gave the 2020 budget bylaws their first three readings at a special meeting April 28.
The budget includes $10,325,627 in operational spending.
“The 2.2 per cent overall tax increase covers cost of living increases in the general operating budget, an increased focus on staff training, new provisions to support Police Victim Services and Gibsons seniors as well as funding for the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce to support small businesses during this challenging period,” director of finance Lorraine Coughlin said in her written report.
A total of $92,780 from taxation funding will also go into capital projects.
The 2020 capital spending plan totals $7,451,000 and includes $1.18 million to upgrade the Prowse Road Lift Station and $3.274 million to expand the aquifer water supply to serve Zone 3, funded mainly through borrowing.
If the budget passes its final reading on May 5 without changes, an average residential property valued at $625,729 will see an increase to the municipal portion of its tax bill of $50.68 over 2019. A typical commercial property, valued at $988,984, will see a decrease of $154.37.
“It is acknowledged that uncertainty remains regarding the overall impact that COVID-19-related events will have on the budget and that adjustments to allocations may be required later in the year,” Coughlin’s report said.
Water and sewer parcel taxes
Council also adopted five per cent increases for both the sewer parcel tax and the water parcel tax at the April 28 meeting. The sewer parcel tax will go up $18.03 to $378.70 and the water parcel tax will go up by $11.25 to $257.69
On April 21, council’s committee of the whole recommended approval of 10 grant applications, totalling some $15,157 out of the Town’s $20,000 grant budget for 2020.
The grants, which go to council for final approval May 5, included $2,000 for the Sunshine Coast Workforce Housing Society.
Society president David Reed told the committee that the group is trying to come up with about $41,500 to continue its effort to secure property for a housing project, hire a consultant to help prepare an application to BC Housing, and have an architect design the building. So far it’s raised about $11,500.
Deer Crossing the Art Farm got $3,000 for two projects, Driftwood Players will receive $1,000 for its Halloween at the Museum performance, and Gibsons Public Art Gallery (GPAG) was confirmed for $1,500.
Gallery manager Michael Aze said GPAG has been trying to include more First Nations art and wants to focus on including Squamish Nation works. The grant will help with bringing in Indigenous artists to act as curators.
The Huckleberry Coast Childcare Society was granted $1,000, although it’s currently closed due to the pandemic. “I would like them to know, if they start up in September, they have the funding in place,” said Coun. David Croal.
Coun. Aleria Ludwig suggested that since the grant has been approved for the past four years, it should be added as a line item in the future.
Other major grant recipients were the Restorative Justice Program of the Sunshine Coast and the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation, which were awarded $2,707 and $2,500.
The Sunshine Coast Conservation Association was granted $500 for work on its Reed Road Forest Protection Strategy and the Friends of Parkland were given $950 to help cover insurance costs for members participating in clean-up events in the area.