Saanich residents and businesses could be looking at a combined 4.5-per-cent tax hike in addition to rising sewer and water rates, if the District passes a proposed budget in the coming months.
Saanich embarking on its annual budget presentation to councillors and the mayor over the coming weeks, with committee of the whole meetings scheduled for Feb. 24 and March 2. Residents are able to provide public input at these meetings.
On Tuesday, council got its first peek at the 2015/16 budget numbers. For the average homeowner, this year’s increase proposal breaks down as follows:
- $99 increase in property taxes
- $43 increase in sewer rate
- $26 increase in water utility
- $5 increase in garbage collection fees
Saanich’s budget is $245 million for 2015, rising about $4.5 million from last year. The increase is primarily due to:
- $2.8-million increase in salaries and MSP premiums for Saanich’s 1,600 employees
- $1.9 million request from the Saanich Police Board for “operational shortfalls” and for a fleet and technology replacement reserve fund. (Of note, Chief Bob Downie told council the average police cruiser has a useful life of only four years.)
Finance director Valla Tinney noted at Tuesday’s meeting that “new tax,” which is derived from new development throughout the District, has dropped significantly in the past year. The resulting tax burden on existing homeowners is larger as a consequence, she said.
“As the non-market change gets smaller and smaller, the existing taxpayer takes on those increases as a result,” Tinney told councillors. “However, we have got grant funding from the restructuring of the gas tax fund. That can only be used for specific projects, but it is good news.”
All operational costs have been held at 2014 levels, with the exception of “critical capacity” requests from each department, Tinney said.
See the proposed budget online at saanich.ca/services/budget/budget.html.