Victoria taxpayers will have a modest increase in property taxes 2021 as a result of a provincially mandated reallocation of funding for the Victoria Police Department.
The new formula will see the city pay an extra $296,122 in 2021 and just over $300,000 in 2022 toward the VicPD budget – the Esquimalt’s contribution will be reduced by roughly the same amount.
On April 8, Victoria council approved the resulting 0.21 per cent hike to the city’s 2021 property tax increase. This year’s overall tax increase of 2.03 per cent is still slightly less than council’s target of the inflation percentage plus one (2.10 per cent).
Shortly afterward, an additional one-time expense of $25,000 was approved to cover the cost, until April 30, of police officers accompanying city bylaw officials in parks where unhoused individuals are sheltering.
Those speaking in favour said it was an important way to show the city values its bylaw officers’ safety.
But Couns. Jeremy Loveday, Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow opposed spending the extra money, with a common argument that the chief constable should be able to deploy officers where needed given the department’s $60 million budget.
“I find it problematic that we continually get these one-off requests,” Loveday said. “The problems in our community are not new, why are these costs not included in the original police budget?”
Mayor Lisa Helps, lead co-chair of the Victoria and Esquimalt police board, said not only did no one know when the encampments would end, VicPD had to make its final budget submission in October. She expected this request to be the last for such a purpose.
Council were told VicPD has a financial stability reserve fund, as does the city in general, but any drawdown from the fund require approval from Victoria and Esquimalt council. The latter would oppose such action since use of the funds would only involve Victoria, staff said.