The City of Fernie is looking for comments on its 2021 Municipal Budget. There are lots of changes for local taxpayers to be aware of, this is your last chance to comment – public comments will be received until April 7, 2021 and presented to Council on April 8th.
What is a Municipal Budget?
Municipalities are required to prepare a balanced budget each year, and we cannot incur a deficit to fund day-to-day operations. In order to balance the budget, a careful analysis must be done regarding the level of service required to meet the expectations and needs of the community balanced against realistic taxation and user fee levels.
How was the Draft 2021 Budget developed?
To address the consequences of years of organizational change, gaps in policy and practice, and rising costs – compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic – the City of Fernie began a detailed analysis of its financial position in the fall of 2020 in anticipation of the 2021 budget cycle. The first step was to have a clear understanding of current conditions. The following factors form part of the backdrop to the development of the 2021 budget:
– In 2020, Council directed staff to pursue a zero-percent tax increase to support taxpayers and the significant challenges caused by the pandemic. This led to temporary reductions in some service levels, including reductions in planned capital spending.
– Years of turnover and vacancies in critical senior management roles, including Finance, resulted in gaps in reporting and inconsistent processes – leading to inefficiencies and escalating costs.
– Significant increase in contractual costs.
– Five to seven years of incomplete and unreliable financial information, and inconsistent and unexamined corporate wide processes, policies, procedures, etc.
– Impact of repayment of new short-term borrowing.
– Years-long practice of funding operational expenditures from capital reserves leading to insufficient investment in infrastructure.
Council is taking a blended approach to address an estimated $546,000 shortfall and deliver a balanced budget. This includes:
– 4% increase in municipal taxes
– Reductions to the Operating and Capital plans
– Reductions to transfers to reserves
– Reductions to expenses in areas that do not affect service delivery levels
– 20% decrease in operational grant funding to community partners
Provide your feedback
Fernie residents are invited to provide feedback on the Draft Budget by visiting Let’s Talk Fernie and completing the budget feedback form. You can also send your comments by email to email@example.com with the subject line “Budget 2021”.
How does my property assessment affect my property taxes?
A common misconception is that a significant change in your assessed value will result in a significant change in your property taxes. The most important factor is how your assessed value has changed relative to the average change for your property class in your municipality. BC Assessment has lots of good information on assessments and property taxes.