Saanich’s finance department released its proposed 2016 financial plan with a 3.25 per cent tax hike for homeowners.
The 3.25 per cent is broken down as a 1.66 per cent increase for core municipal and police operations ($1.77 million), a 0.87 per cent increase for capital replacements ($932,900), 0.58 per cent for resource requests ($621,150), and 0.14 per cent ($145,840) for the Greater Victoria Public Library.
It means average Saanich homeowners are projected to pay about $116 more in 2016, once sewage, water and refuse is factored in. Last year Saanich homeowners saw an average hike of $168.
Overall the budget isn’t grotesque, said Mayor Richard Atwell.
“We’re not hearing from residents to cut services to make taxes lower,” he said.
A reduced police budget is being credited for trimming what would have been a far higher increase for taxpayers.
Saanich Police had originally brought forward a budget proposal with a 6.8 per cent increase for 2016.
“Police responded to our request that they limit their increase to no more than 3.5 per cent,” said Coun. Vic Derman. “Yes they’re extremely important but it has to be affordable.”
Moving forward, Derman said the goal is for Saanich Police to keep its growth at less than 3.5 per cent in future years, as that number is still higher than the average growth of any other department within Saanich.
Saanich Police spending will jump to $30.8 million in 2016, up $920,000 from 2015. Most of the increase represents the same growth built into many of the collective bargaining agreements Saanich has with union employees.
Among the key capital expenditures in 2016 are the $5.9 million Wilkinson Road Bridge replacement and $3.6 million in wood stave replacements. Saanich is replacing the final sections of wood stave stormwater pipes.
Saanich’s 2016 budget estimates bringing in $251,533,700 in revenue against $251,533,700 in expenses. The district employs close to 1,600 full-time, part-time and auxiliary employees.