Saanich council has elected to cut the proposed Saanich 2016 budget increase down to 2.75 per cent from 3.13 (originally 3.25) per cent based on two options prepared by staff.
The staff options, which were requested by council at the March 15 special committee of the whole meeting on the financial plan, have .3 and .5 per cent reductions. Council voted 7-2 in favour of the reductions on Tuesday night, which were detailed in a report released by CAO Paul Thorkelsson last week.
Coun. Colin Plant was one of the two votes against the budget reductions, and posted online that he felt it is too late in the game to be cutting services.
“… coming back one week before we approve the budget [and] asking for a last minute cut is not how I want to conduct business as a councillor,” wrote Plant.
By the time of Thorkelsson’s report, some of the conservative numbers had been finalized below what was presented earlier in 2016 bringing the original proposed 3.25 per cent budget hike down to 3.12. That includes an $80,000 reduction to the CREST Levy, a $14,660 reduction to the GVPL budget and $115,000 from various revenue projections. That total, less an additional $127,110 reduction in actual tax revenue, comes up to $127,110, or 0.12 per cent.
Thorkelsson’s report suggests an additional two options. Option 1 will reduce the budget increase by .3 per cent with reductions to the Critical Resource Requests, which will slightly minimize resources put into Parks and Rec’s youth leader positions, Cedar Hill Rec’s building service workers, Corporate Services, Planning, webcast support, legal services and more. Option 2 drops the budget proposal another .5 per cent by reducing the infrastructure sustainability taxation, which was put in place in 2007 to replace Saanich’s aging underground sewer and water lines. The money will come from drainage ($144,000) and transportation ($55,000).