(Stock photo)

Summerland staff reworks budget

Tax rate remains unchanged, but some items deferred or cut

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Summerland property owners have more time than usual to pay their property taxes this year.

Normally the deadline would be July 3, but this year, it has been extended until the end of September.

As a result, the municipality has been working to address potential cash flow challenges for this year.

“It was definitely something we’ve been looking at since COVID-19 hit,” said David Svetlichny, director of finance for the municipality.

While the four per cent tax increase was not changed as a result of the pandemic, the municipality has made numerous changes to its budget.

READ ALSO: Summerland council revisiting budget

READ ALSO: Summerland issues staff cuts and layoffs due to COVID-19 pandemic

Svetlichny said Summerland council has reduced its annual budget by $13.4 million this year. In February, a budget of $61.6 million had been approved.

Changes to capital projects, including deferring some projects, accounted for $9.6 million from the budget. In some cases, the scope of municipal projects has been changed.

The budget also changed as public facilities were closed and some staff were laid off earlier in the year.

In the past, the municipality would receive money from the rental of the arena for summer hockey schools, graduation and other events. However, since the arena has been closed, the money did not come in.

The Summerland Aquatic and Fitness Centre has also been closed during the pandemic, also affecting municipal finances.

“We’re not bringing in any recreational revenues,” Svetlichny said.

In mid-April, temporary cuts were made to 11 permanent part-time employees at the fitness centre and 12 full-time employees throughout the municipality. Council also chose not to fill two new positions which had earlier been approved in the 2020 municipal budget.

Summerland mayor Toni Boot said the municipality chose to keep the four per cent tax increase, instead offering reductions in utility rates.

She said it is more equitable for the municipality to reduce utility rates while maintaining the tax level.

“If you’re able to pay, please do so by the July 3 typical tax deadline,” she added.

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