A local advocacy group has awarded the Town of Sidney a prize for its financial decision-making.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria awarded the municipality third prize as part of its fifth annual Candy Cane Awards for holding what the group calls “the line on property taxes” earlier this year.
Council last month voted unanimously to use the 2020 taxes rate as starting point for yet-to-be-finalized tax rates in 2021. Council had earlier this spring decided to reduce business taxes by 10 per cent for 2020 to help local businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
The group also praised Sidney’s decision-making around a grant worth more than $2.75 million to help the municipality deal with the costs of COVID-19.
Council members last month voted unanimously to allocate $650,000 of the grant toward making up lost revenues and costs incurred in 2020 because of COVID. They also agreed to “tentatively set aside” $550,000 to maintain the current level of tax reductions for 2021 with a final decision to be made during 2021 budget deliberations, following an amendment by Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith.
“It’s implied in the first part of the motion, but I would like it to be crystal clear,” he said.
Councillors also agreed to set aside the rest of the grant for consideration during the 2021 budget process – with Coun. Terri O’Keeffe the lone voice of opposition – and hold off reviewing the existing ratio of property taxes paid by residential and business property owners respectively.
South Island Prosperity Partnership (SIPP) won the Grumpy Taxpayer$’ first prize for what the group calls “successfully mobilizing leaders across the community to develop an economic development plan during the pandemic” after preparing a detailed report and holding a virtual conference drawing together decision-makers from British Columbia, Washington State, Oregon and Alaska, as well as the Canadian prairie provinces.
“The effectiveness of the SIPP partnership shows the power of working together as a region on our shared economic and social prosperity, most significantly during the perilous circumstances in which we find ourselves today,” said John Treleaven, chair of the advocacy group.
SIPP includes 65 public and private-sector partners in Greater Victoria, including 11 local governments, nine First Nations, three post-secondary institutions, nine industry associations and nonprofits, and more than 30 major employers.
Second prize went to the City of Victoria, a frequent target of the group, for improvements to Dallas Road, a popular scenic destination.
“The City of Victoria is to be commended for investing in our aging and critical infrastructure which is considered by residents as a prudent use of tax dollars,” Treleaven said.
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