Sidney held its second round of budget discussions Tuesday, just as Central Saanich council kicked off its discussions. North Saanich councillors are scheduled to start their discussion on Feb. 25. (Black Press Media file photo)

Sidney held its second round of budget discussions Tuesday, just as Central Saanich council kicked off its discussions. North Saanich councillors are scheduled to start their discussion on Feb. 25. (Black Press Media file photo)

Budget talks unfold across the Saanich Peninsula

Sidney hosts second round of budget talks, while Central Saanich held inaugural budget session

The three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula find themselves at different stages in deliberations for their respective budgets.

Sidney council, meeting as committee-of-the-whole, held its second budget session Tuesday after its first session on Feb. 1, when Andrew Hicik, director of corporate services, presented a draft budget with proposed expenditures of $19.86 million and general tax increase of 4.45 per cent.

He said at the time that this figure represents a starting point for deliberations. While it includes all new requests for funding, they remain subject to council’s approval, meaning the draft figure will just be that, with staff due to present a second, updated draft on March 2.

The average residential property valued at $696,400 paid $1,518 in municipal property taxes in 2020 and the proposed tax increase for 2021 would increase said total by $68 with the average residential property valued at $700,000 in 2021, if approved as presented on Feb. 1.

READ ALSO: Have your say on Victoria’s city budget 2021

Sidney’s water parcel tax will also go up by $10 to $75, meaning new municipal charges for 2021 would add up $78, if approved as first presented. Staff point out that the impact on any individual property will vary, depending on changes in its assessed value from the previous year compared to the average change in residential assessments.

According to the draft budget of $32.4 million presented to Central Saanich council Tuesday, homeowners in that community face a total property tax increase of $62 or 2.97 per cent based on the municipality’s average residential assessment of $754,300.

Chief administrative officer Christine Culham said in a report presenting the budget that the 2021 draft responds to the needs of the community and is mindful of the current economic climate. Council’s strategic plan with its focus on road safety and active transportation, climate action manageable growth and supporting businesses and farms also informs the plan, she added.

“This increase addresses inflation, improvements to public safety funding, and building capacity in climate action, an area of focus for the (municipality),” she said.

Additional budget meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 23, as well as March 15 and 29.

North Saanich’s draft 2021 budget has not yet appeared in public following public budget consultation.

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