The goal for City of Armstrong staff, as requested by council, was to get to a zero per cent tax increase for residents to help in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staff nearly made it.
Armstrong council approved its 2020 financial plan Monday, May 11, which will see a one per cent increase or a $2 hike to the municipal portion of the tax bill.
“It wasn’t zero but it was damn close,” said Mayor Chris Pieper.
Staff was able to remove more than $100,000 from the previously approved budget which helped keep the increase down. Taken out were items such as sponsorship for the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA), reports on stream protection and enhancement, and sewer and potable water.
Added to the budget was $4,200 which includes contributions to the Armstrong Spallumcheen Trails Society and additional technology requirements for COVID-19.
The total savings of $103,000 allowed the city to create a one-time COVID-19 rebate of $45 to be evenly distributed between 2,268 residential assessment properties.
Residential taxes make up 78.33 per cent of Armstrong’s total taxes.
“Every time there’s an increase, it’s the residents who are the hardest hit,” said Pieper.
The infrastructure levy that was supposed to be a 2.5 per cent levy, and would have brought in $54,000, was reduced to a 1.28 per cent levy, creating $28,000. That money will be spent on a sidewalk project this year.
Armstrong businesses will see a 10 per cent reduction in their taxes, thanks mainly to a huge provincial rebate on school taxes. In 2019, the tax rate for schools for Armstrong businesses was $1,648.21. With the rebate in 2020, the rate is $535.48.
Business taxes make up the second-highest percentage of total taxes in the city at 19.77 per cent.