St. John's Unveils 2021 Budget
The City of St. John’s released the details of Budget 2021 which includes measures to address a projected $10-12M deficit.
There will be no increase in residential or commercial property taxes.
The City budget was balanced at $312,526,525 through a mixture of spending reductions, fee increases and one-time investments from previous years’ surpluses.
“We are entering the 2021 fiscal year with an unprecedented level of uncertainty and therefore have crafted a budget with this reality in mind,” said Councillor Dave Lane, lead Councillor for Finance and Administration. “While we have taken measures to reduce the cost of government for this and future years, we are making use of COVID-19 relief funding and previous budget surplus funds to avoid an increased tax burden for the unpredictable year ahead.”
Water taxes will increase $15, from $605 for the past two years to $620 in 2021. This increase is required to fund current water operations, and all revenue from this tax goes directly to providing water service.
The City of St. John’s is forecasting a deficit in 2021 resulting from unpaid taxes and revenue losses, largely due to impacts from the pandemic. Anticipated declines in the Tourism and Marketing Levy are substantial, as are forecasted increases to vacancy allowance claims on commercial properties. The City must also adjust for additional costs to service debt for completed capital projects.
In late November, the City of St. John’s announced layoffs that result in $1,227,669 in savings.
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A further $200,000 will be achieved by closing the Railway Coastal Museum and $700,000 will be saved by reducing some capital projects planned for 2021.
A set of fee increases will also be implemented to increase revenue and offset the deficit:
A general parking ticket will increase from $30 to $50
The ticket for violating the winter parking ban will increase from $55 to $75
Street cleaning violations will increase from $30 to $40
$50 and $60 traffic violation tickets will increase to $60 and $75, respectively
Paid parking will increase from $1.50 per hour to $1.75 per hour throughout the City and parking in Churchill Square will increase from $0.75 to $1.00
Visitor parking permits increase from $27.50 to $35.75 annually
Sewer Back Up Calls increase from $100 to $200
Sewer Dig and Lateral Repairs increase to $800 for a repair of 8m or less, and $1000 for a repair greater than 8m
The remaining $7,119,822 in projected deficit will be funded from prior years’ surpluses: the City of St. John’s received $6.3 million in COVID relief money from the provincial government which, combined with prior operating surpluses, will be used to address the fiscal challenges.