Cumberland considers how to redirect reserve funds as relief

Council still needs to adopt property tax rates by the middle of May

Cumberland’s council held off adopting tax rates for the year at the April 27 meeting to consider some reserve funds it is putting aside to one day pay for the police costs.

The Village of Cumberland has to adopt its tax rates for the year by May 15, but council decided it needs to consider in more detail whether it should redirect some of the emergency and public safety reserve fund money in ways to help the community through the COVID-19 situation.

Council will consider the 2020 property tax rates in more detail at a special meeting on May 4, 2020 at 2 p.m. which will be lived streamed via Zoom.

As the Village’s population creeps toward 5,000 – the benchmark at which communities in the province have to start paying for police costs – council and staff have had to put aside reserve funds, as opposed to bringing in a large tax increase at once. Village chief financial officer Michelle Mason said she does not anticipate the community will hit 5,000 for the 2021 census.

“It’s a matter of balancing off the risk,” she said.

The current economic instability from the pandemic prompted members of council to look at using reserve funds for help in the short term in the community.

While the amount varies and some property classes saw larger increases, the tax rates are increasing by 4.62 per cent over 2019 rates which should amount to about $178 more for an average single-family home. This figure, Mason told council, includes $42 for the utility rate and frontage tax hikes.

“It’s not all property taxes,” she said.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland council plans for tax, utility increases

Members of council commented that while the timing of an increase was unfortunate, the Village had committed to some large capital projects, some of which like the new fire hall, are underway.

“We don’t have a lot of options when it comes to deferring capital projects,” said Coun. Jesse Ketler, pointing out some communities had chosen to put off some capital projects. She proposed considering the police reserve funds for one year to offer some relief for taxes.

“I really think it’s important that we try and bring down the tax as much as we can for this year in light of what’s happening with everyone’s finances,” she said.

Mason later estimated using the surplus funds would result in an average reduction to the proposed hike of about $30 if this is spread through all property classes. The staff report notes the Village budgeted about $47,770 in new residential growth taxes as revenue and a reserve transfer, but with the revised roll, the amount was more than $107,000. With the planned transfer to the reserve, there is a remaining balance of $59,700.

Some on council suggested it might make sense to put this money aside to help with potential COVID-19 relief in the future, especially if there is another wave of the virus.

“I’m interested in putting the money somewhere different for a rainy day,” said Coun. Sean Sullivan.

Ultimately, council wanted to know what the tax implications would be and asked staff to prepare a report for the special meeting, so they can discuss the matter before making a final decision at the next regular meeting.

“I think it would benefit us to show the residents that we looked at it,” said Mayor Leslie Baird.

(The special council meeting was slated for May 4, after this story went to press. The item should be on the agenda for the next regular meeting set for May 11 at which point council needs to adopt the property tax bylaw.)

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several local schools took part in Student Vote for the B.C. election. Black Press file photo
Students in Student Vote support NDP in Comox-Courtenay

Unlike actual vote, students in Mid Island-Pacific Rim back Greens

Father Charles has devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats and has inspired generations of volunteers to work together to protect and preserve forests and rivers. Photo submitted
Valley environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks near Comox

A Comox Valley family had a meeting with a humpback whale family… Continue reading

Candice Woloshyn prepares her flower beds for the next season at her ‘Dirty Girl Flowers’ farm in Merville. Despite the pandemic, Woloshyn was able to sustain her homegrown business as community members opted for regular deliveries of fresh cut flowers. Photo by Binny Paul/ Campbell River Mirror.
Vancouver Island flower farmers were blooming as the pandemic wilted everything else

Floriculturists saw increased subscriptions as fresh flowers became a ‘sight for sore eyes’ during isolation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A picture of John taken at Children’s Hospital Vancouver last week. Photo courtesy, Alicia Sewid.
RCMP investigating after young boy run over by SUV in Campbell River parking lot

The seven-year-old has multiple injuries including a broken pelvis and was admitted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read