Saanich taxpayers will be paying more this year, suggests the 2011 financial plan reviewed by council this week.
The municipality estimates the owners of a home valued at $626,800 – the average in Saanich – will see their tax increases by $133, a 4.7 jump from last year.
The overall spike accounts for a rise in operational costs (2.75 per cent), infrastructure replacement (0.75 per cent) and new infrastructure costs (.1 per cent) over last year. As well, water, sewer and refuse collection rates rose this year accounting for the difference.
Mayor Frank Leonard noted the property tax increase could’ve been higher, but many municipal departments – save for police, fire and infrastructure – scaled back their spending.
“We have kept our operating increase to 2.75 per cent, but the commitment to infrastructure is where the increase is,” Leonard said. “That’s what we hope is a community commitment to make sure we give our next generation a community of assets and not liabilities.”
The infrastructure replacement hike stems from the costs to operate the soon-to-be open arts centre expansion at Cedar Hill Rec. The new infrastructure cost helps the municipality replace existing aging assets.
“You used to get two-third grants (from upper levels of government) for a lot of those things (like roads, drains, sidewalks and pipes), but that’s very rare now,” director of finance Paul Murray said. “There’s a lot more cost pressures on local government to fund the whole replacement.”
Leonard, now in his 15th year as mayor, says only in the last 10 has the municipality been able to implement a strategy to start putting money aside for infrastructure spending.
“We’ve more than tripled infrastructure spending in just over 10 years,” Leonard said.
The process has also been revised in that time, giving council a realistic idea in January what the revised budget in April will look like.
More budget presentations will be held before then to discuss engineering and public works spending, and community grant money.