Council caught ina taxing dilemma

Saanich council hoping to trim expected increase to tax revenues

As Saanich council and staff wrestle with the tough decisions around the budget table, it quickly becomes apparent there are no easy answers.

Council has asked staff to sharpen their pencils in order to find reductions in a budget that would currently carry a 4.45 per cent tax increase for Saanich homeowners. The goal is to reduce that figure to around three per cent.

While tax hikes enjoy near unanimous disapproval, every measure to lessen the tax impact creates ripples that threaten to jeopardize programs and services valued by significant segments of the population.

Coun. Susan Brice hinted at this paradox in outlining council’s desire to “lower the impact on taxes,” while suggesting the public might not like some of the decisions that are a product of that desire.

Among those to feel the pain of fiscal restraints are the non-profit groups that rely on municipal grants to provide the services that many in the community view as a necessity. Council is moving to reduce the nearly $500,000 in grants provided to community organizations last year. From preserving the district’s heritage to providing assistance to refugees, from supporting the community’s seniors to protecting our environment – fiscal restraint means there may be less money to go around to support these worthy endeavours.

And cuts to those grants will make up only a fraction of the savings council needs to achieve in order to meet its budget goals.

A number of options are being considered to reduce the tax impact by 1.5 per cent. Those include a reduction in additional funding to the capital infrastructure program; reducing the annual operating contingency; using previous surpluses to fund current operations, along with reducing grant funding and permissive tax exemptions. It was determined that a cut to municipal services would require staffing cuts that are untenable.

There is little doubt the vast majority of Saanich residents would encourage their elected representatives to keep any tax increase to a minimum. But the actions taken to achieve that end will likely create entirely new concerns.

Just Posted

Stay free of theft and scams this holiday season

Saanich Police offer suggestions for a happy holiday

Lost Victoria: Story of the Crystal Palace

Historian Stuart Stark launches book about iconic Oak Bay structure that was lost to flames

Plastic checkout bag ban to take effect in Victoria next summer

Merchants may still provide free bags for certain grocery and retail items

Police wait on autopsy findings on human foot

Sooke RCMP are waiting for autopsy findings before determing if a human… Continue reading

Victoria rental prices declining, according to national listing website

The median price of a one-bedroom suite dropped almost five per cent in December

Kind Kids Club hands crafts cards for Oak Bay Lodge residents

Additional funds raised go toward gifts for the pediatric wing at Victoria General Hospital

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

Toddler sent to hospital following dog bite at Vancouver Island daycare

Malamute/husky cross involved in incident at 1200-block of Burnside Rd. West

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Island entering the peak of flu season

Island Health says flu shots the best prevention against the virus

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

Saanich lets pot business roll along

Council Tuesday issued a temporary use permit for the production of medical… Continue reading

Most Read