City hall expects to post a modest surplus for the year ahead, with the vast majority of homeowners paying less than $100 in extra property taxes over 2020, according to the latest draft of Grand Forks’ 2021 budget. The draft, presented to city council on Wednesday, Feb. 24, updates preliminary numbers which had projected a nearly $810,000 deficit.
Nearly a quarter of homeowners (around 21 per cent) will pay around $20 less in property taxes this year, based on average assessed property values in Grand Forks and the city’s tax rate, Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn told council. Around 63 per cent of homeowners will see their property tax rates go up by less than $100, with a tiny fraction (a total of 7 homeowners, or 0.003 per cent) paying more than $1,000, according to Redfearn.
Property taxes were held to minimum even as average property assessments went up because the city lowered it’s so-called “mill rate,” which Redfearn explained is the amount of property tax dollars payable to the city per $1,000 in a home’s assessed value. Property values are assessed every year by the BC Assessment Authority, he added.
Redfearn said city staff prepared the draft budget according to mayor and council’s multi-pronged fiscal strategy.
“The financial stability of the city is essential for us moving forward,” mayor Brian Taylor told The Gazette.
To that point, Redfearn said the current budget anticipates a roughly $1,500 annual surplus, with nearly $420,000 added to the city’s financial reserves.
The city currently plans to offset around $500,000 in lost revenue due to the pandemic using last year’s provincial COVID-safe restart grant, leaving nearly $900,000 in remaining grant money which Redfearn said could be put towards further pandemic losses.
City council will finalize the 2021 budget some time this spring.