Saanich council ponders a property tax increase of 5.6 per cent (Black Press File).

Employers Health Tax divides Saanich council over tax increase

Proposed property tax lift currently stands at 5.6 per cent inclusive EHT

The Employers Health Tax (EHT) threatens to split councillors into two camps, as budget deliberations turned towards the size of the proposed tax lift Tuesday.

The proposed lift calls for Saanich to increase property taxes by 5.6 per cent after council had considered grant requests and other items Tuesday. That figure includes — at least for now — funding for additional staff among other items, as well as funding for the EHT introduced by the provincial government effective Jan. 1. Minus the tax, Saanich’s property tax would go up by 4.1 per cent — a figure with which several councillors appeared satisfied with when held up against the larger context of the EHT’s introduction.

RELATED: Saanich residents face taxlift between 4.78 and 5.58 per cent

RELATED: Saanich councillor calls for additional cuts to tax lift

RELATED: Saanich lowers potential tax increase as budget talks continue

RELATED: Saanich council members slam new health tax following release of draft budget

“If this budget did not have the [EHT] in it, I would have zero problems supporting this budget as is,” said Coun. Colin Plant. He acknowledged that the EHT portion takes Saanich over the symbolic figure of five per cent. “But for me, I live in the greatest municipality in Canada, and you need money to have the greatest municipality in Canada.”

Coun. Judy Brownoff agreed, pointing to the need for additional staff to help improve planning and bylaw enforcement. “I’m not willing to reduce our taxes because of the [EHT],” she said.

But the public also heard from Couns. Karen Harper and Rebecca Mersereau.

While Harper said she would support some staff additions, she nonetheless considered the proposed lift excessive.

“I would have difficulty with going to 4.1 [per cent],” said Harper.

That figure appears twice as high as inflation, she said.

Mersereau, meanwhile, said she would be uncomfortable with the lift if all additional requests are approved in calling for ways to reduce the lift. While some additional initiatives like Saanich’s Older Adult Strategy require additional resources, other items (like media monitoring) might be too costly.

Mayor Fred Haynes, for his part, said he too would like to see a lower increase. “It is a big lift,” he said. “I’m not happy with the size of this lift.”

But he also said that the additional requests address previous commitments, as well as campaign promises, suggesting that it would be disingenuous to campaign on one thing, then deny staff the additional resources to fulfill promises.

“So my mind is still open, and I hear some of the comments from my colleagues, that they may surgically go [into the budget] and may be change a few things. But what I have also heard is that this is an integrated mesh of services.”

Budget discussion continue Tuesday, March 26.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New crop of hand-crafted heats popping up across Saanich

Community arts program promotes wellness, sends message of caring from people of all ages

Saanich School District set to review its boundaries

Goal is to correct imbalances in school populations

South Island Transportation Strategy looks to reduce reliance on personal vehicles

EV charging stations, bike lockers, new park-and-ride stalls among solutions in Capital Region

BC Transit finishes wave of replacements with natural gas buses in Victoria

Average fleet age drops a few years with new buses added in 2020

Oak Bay couple honoured for 35 years volunteering

Mayor awards distinguished Oak Leaf to Bert and Doris Dinsmore

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

POLL: Do you agree with the decision to call a provincial election for Oct. 24?

British Columbians will put their social distancing skills to the test when… Continue reading

The holiday everyone needs this year: Vote for your favourite in Fat Bear Week 2020

Voters will get to decide who gets to take home this year’s most coveted prize

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read