Budget season is upon us and with that means tax increases – at least under normal circumstances.
The Region of Durham recently released its budget guidelines, which calls for a two per cent increase on the 2021 budget.
It’s business as usual from the perspective of regional finance staff who seem to forget that we are in a pandemic.
The guidelines have yet to be approved by council, but if they are it will mean a $56 increase to the residential taxes of the owner of a home estimated at $483,100.
That might sound like chump change but in the worst financial crisis ever seen, any amount of increase is hard to accept.
The second wave of COVID-19 is in its infancy now. Provincial gathering guidelines have been reduced once again to those similar to peak times experienced back in June.
Schools are in disarray as they try to provide for a safe and effective teaching environment for those who headed back to school. Plus there’s the online element adding financial burden to a system already in crisis.
Businesses that are still operating are suffering from months of lost revenue.
Most of us have suffered financially during the pandemic. Some families are still out of work as businesses continue to shutter.
The region has more than $1 billion in reserve funds set aside for a rainy day. Well, it’s raining. Hard.
We are still in trouble as we battle COVID-19 and the situation is unlikely to improve for some time.
People are still being propped up by a government that shut down the economy. So it’s anything but business as usual in the real world.
It’s time to dip into those reserve funds and use them at this extraordinary time, as they were intended.