The City of Terrace is facing increased pressure to reduce or cancel a proposed tax increase in light of COVID-19.
The boost is set to be become formal when the city officially sets its 2020 budget May 15. Christina Losier, a resident who previously wrote the City with concerns about the tax increase, has now started a petition on change.org demanding a stop to the increase. The petition has earned 224 signatures so far, nearly halfway to its stated goal of 500 signatures.
Losier told The Terrace Standard she originally supported the property tax increase when she first heard of it in December, but her opinion changed when the COVID-19 pandemic was reported.
“I’m thinking of the folks in Terrace who have lost their incomes, who have mouths to feed,” she said. “Post-COVID-19, the economic climate for our community is entirely different and the City of Terrace needs to respond to its citizens by making extremely frugal choices.”
Mayor Carol Leclerc said in an interview that the city is facing substantial revenue loss this year due to the pandemic, such as a portion of the approximately $700,000 a year that is collected by the province from the Chances Terrace casino and then returned to the city.
With Chances Terrace now closed, that revenue loss means it’s unlikely the property tax increase could be reduced or stopped, Leclerc said.
City staff are, however, reviewing the proposed budget and adapting it to the pandemic situation.
“We’re doing our best. We’re so aware of how challenging and uncertain the times are,” Leclerc said.
The City is also losing out on revenue from its recreational facilities but is balancing that off by layoffs.
Leclerc said one way the city is reducing costs this year is by cancelling trips that councillors normally take each year to various conferences. The city might also try to defer some infrastructure projects until COVID-19 has passed.
“Your roads never stop breaking down, your facilities never stop aging,” she said. “If you postpone something now, sooner or later it catches up with you.”