City of Dawson Creek braces for millions in shortfall

If city taxes are not paid - the City of Dawson Creek could be looking at millions of dollars in shortfall.

City council met for an online and social distancing council meeting Friday morning in advance of their regular Monday city council meeting.

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City CAO Blair Lekstrom outlined a grim financial picture with a late tax penalty deadline moved to October  - the city could be millions short.

"This could put us in a position to borrow money to pay other levels of government," said Lekstrom, noting traditionally about 97 percent of taxes are paid on time.

"We won't know until the city's July 2 deadline comes and goes."

"We don't know," confirmed Dawson Creek's CFO Flavia Rossi Donovan noting the as of Dec. 2019 - there is $15 millon in capital reserves.

"We expect to have $10 million by the end of the year."

Lekstrom said much was still up in the air as the situation is changing daily at provincial and federal levels.

"We will get through this - but there alot of unknowns at this point."

The province is also is telling allowing cities to hold education tax. Municipalities must use that to pay other taxing authorities.

"It is about helping others as much as helping us," said Lekstrom adding the city will be allowed to borrow from capital reserves for operations.

"We will make decisions on what to do with business and residental tax penalties on Monday, if we do not see  revenue (taxes) come in July, August, and September," added Mayor Dale Bumstead.

"It is fair to say this is not a one year impact. This is a multi year impact we will all see for years to come," added Lekstrom.

On Monday city council will meet about an alternature tax collection scheme and plan, provincial supprt for businesses and local government, as well as a COVID-19 Relief Plan for Dawson Creek's municipal property taxes.

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