Residents and businesses in Colwood may see some tax relief in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Colwood council is moving ahead with planning for a zero per cent increase in municipal property taxes for 2020. The municipality is also planning on bringing in a five-year phased approach to align Colwood’s business tax rates with the regional average starting in 2020, according to a release.
A special committee of the whole meeting was held on April 14 for budget deliberations. About one week prior to the meeting, Colwood Mayor Rob Martin spoke with the Goldstream News Gazette and expressed his plans to advocate for a zero per cent municipal property tax lift in the 2020 fiscal year in light of financial struggles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Colwood’s financial plan proposed a 3.5 per cent tax increase in 2020. The increase would have funded service expansions, capital projects and sustainable infrastructure replacement. Council is supporting moving service expansion plans into next year.
“Shifting some of the service expansions forward into 2021 allows us to give Colwood taxpayers the relief they need right now,” Martin said in a statement.
The shift of Colwood’s RCMP expansion to 2021 is part of the revised financial plan, according to a summary of budget adjustments presented at the April 14 meeting. Deferring new fire services hires to Jan. 1, 2021 is also part of the plan.
“West Shore RCMP does a phenomenal job,” Martin said. “Expanding Colwood’s RCMP service in 2021 will keep Colwood well ahead of the curve in accelerating police strength to align with population growth over the next 10 to 20 years.”
Aligning Colwood’s business tax rates with those in the region will help businesses rebound quickly after the pandemic as well as attract new businesses to commercial spaces in areas like Colwood Corners, Royal bay and in the Allandale District, the municipality says.
Colwood is also reaching out to business owners directly to better understand how COVID-19 is impacting business and how the municipality can help.
Residential taxes in Colwood are already among the lowest in the region, according to the municipality. The average taxes and charges between 2010 and 2019 is $4,478. Colwood’s average is $3,751, making its residential taxes the third-lowest in the Capital Region after Langford and Metchosin.
“The average Colwood homeowner will not see an increase over their 2019 municipal taxes unless a home’s value increased more than average in the past year,” a statement from the municipality says.
In a previous statement made by Martin to the Gazette, he said he expects to see a large influx of dollars coming in from the province and federal government once they are past “crisis mode” and try to “kick start the economy.”