Islands Trust reduces budget due to pandemic impacts

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Trust-area property owners will get a break on their tax bills after Islands Trust Council decided to reduce the 2020/21 Trust budget in response to novel coronavirus pandemic impacts.

Council had approved a $8,338,613 operating budget at their last meeting in March, with $6,917,075 of that amount derived from property taxes from local Trust areas and $312,887 from Bowen Island Municipality property owners. On April 20, trustees agreed via teleconference to reduce the budget to $8.2 million, with $6,783,140 from local Trust area property taxes and $303,021 from BIM.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created personal and financial challenges for many islanders,” said council chair Peter Luckham in an April 22 press release. “The world has changed dramatically since we first approved a 2020/21 budget in mid-March. Trustees wanted to help, so we held a special Trust Council meeting to discuss how we could reduce taxes. After debating options, Trust Council voted to approve a reduced budget that means an 8.1 per cent decrease in the tax requisition to Bowen Island Municipality and an average zero per cent general property tax increase for property owners in local Trust areas.”

The budget was amended by reducing meeting expenses, staff and trustee travel and training, and choosing to not hire a co-op student this year due to current work-at-home measures.

Trust staff have been working from home during the pandemic period. They continue to process development applications and referrals, manage the Islands Trust Conservancy’s protected areas and develop strategic plan projects.

Details of the approved 2020/21 budget are available on the Islands Trust website.

Trustees also voted Monday to cancel their June 2020 in-person meeting on Hornby Island.

“We look forward to meeting on Hornby Island at a later date when things stabilize and we have the ability to plan with confidence,” said Luckham. “During the interim, we are working to have electronic meetings open to the public.”

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