New residential developments in Port Alberni could be helping to pay for a new pool.
City manager of finance Andrew McGifford pointed out during a committee of the whole meeting on March 15 that Port Alberni saw a “significant” number of new residential developments last year, adding up to approximately $163,000 in new taxes.
The committee recommended assigning that non-market change, or new taxation, from residential units built in 2020 towards a reserve fund for a replacement aquatic centre. The city is looking at creating a specific pool replacement fund with its most recent budget.
“Given the interest from the residents of Port Alberni for the pool, I think it would be fitting,” said Mayor Sharie Minions on March 15.
Councillor Debbie Haggard agreed.
“The community can start to look forward to us building a new pool and aquatic centre, without having an increase in their taxation,” she said. “So they’re seeing the benefits of the development that’s coming to our community. Hopefully we can get more development and contribute a bit more to that reserve fund in the following couple years.”
The business class also saw a bit of a change in 2020, totalling about $54,000 in new taxes. The committee recommended redistributing that amount back into local businesses to reduce taxes for 2021.
“Especially given the challenging year that COVID has been for small businesses, I think it would make a lot of sense to redistribute that $54,000 back out amongst commercial businesses,” said Minions.
The recommendations will be brought forward to a future regular meeting of council, where they will either be approved or denied.
The March 15 meeting was the latest in a series of budget meetings, which will make a decision on the city’s 2021-2025 five-year financial plan.
The current proposed budget shows a 3.95 percent estimated property tax increase, but this could be reduced by as much as 2.72 percent due to an error in the 2020 budget.
On March 15, the committee also discussed a potential surplus from the 2020 budget that might add up to as much as $500,000. This surplus is the net result of all revenue and expenses from the city’s general fund operations in 2020. Any surplus funds will go back into reserves to be used for future city projects.
McGifford explained that the $500,000 figure is just an estimate and the final amount will be known once the city has wrapped up all of the 2020 accruals and reviews.
“That’s preliminary, but we’ll firm that up when we get closer to the end of the month,” said McGifford.