Councillor Jeff Virtanen and Mayor Aaron Stone at the February 18 Regular Council Meeting (Cole Schisler photo)

Town of Ladysmith adopts 1.92 percent tax increase for 2020

Mayor Aaron Stone said the increase balances lost revenue while maintaining town services

This article previously stated the due date for property taxes was June 2. This is incorrect. The due date for property taxes is July 2.

The Town of Ladysmith council voted for a 1.92 percent tax increase equally across all tax classes after non-market change at their April 21 Special Meeting of Council.

A report prepared by Erin Anderson, director of financial services for the Town of Ladysmith, outlined cost saving measures within the 2020 Budget to offset lost revenue caused by COVID-19. These measures included postponement of hiring of a Manager of Facilities for a savings of $29,743, a full depletion of the contingency reserve for a savings of $7,986, and a reduction of funds allocated for the capital reserve from five-percent to 2.5 percent for a savings of $178,262.

The Town lost an estimated $301,000 in revenue from Parks, Recreation, and Culture due to facility closures caused by COVID-19.

“The Town is facing a significant challenge of balancing lost revenue and keeping taxes in check all while continuing to provide services, maintain our roads and parks and complete the key work required to allow for a rapid economic recovery. We’re providing what relief we can while maintaining these and other requirements and responsibilities,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.

Stone said that the tax allocation option chosen by council was meant to help share the property tax burden equally between commercial and residential properties. Council decided against cutting services to allow for a net-zero percent increase because to achieve that, contributions to capital reserves would need to be eliminated completely. The reduction to capital reserves could jeopardize future capital projects like the 4th Avenue reconstruction project.

“I thought council made the right decision and I’m happy to support it,” Stone said.

Ladysmith Council only sets the municipal portion of the tax bill, so property owners could see increases depending on the budgets set by other agencies.

Last year, 41 per cent of Ladysmith’s property tax bill paid for services like schools, the Vancouver Regional Library, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Cowichan Regional Hospital fund.

Property taxes are due July 2, however penalties for late payments will not be issued until October, 2020. City Hall has reopened to the public to help residents file their property taxes, and direct residents to support and resources offered by the provincial government.

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