Central Saanich plans to increase revenue from property taxes by 4.84 per cent – equivalent to $104 a year for the average assessed home value, now sitting at $966,700 in the district.
These figures appear in the municipality’s draft 2022 budget, which will be the subject of a virtual information session on Feb. 10 that is open to the public. Formal budget discussions by council are scheduled to start Feb. 22.
The municipality has to address its aging infrastructure and also invest in the community’s vision for the future, district chief administrative officer Christine Culham said in a release.
“The proposed budget keeps tax increases as minimal as possible for taxpayers, while ensuring we can address these needed investments,” she said.
Thirty per cent of the proposed increase would go to existing and new infrastructure, including active transportation projects. Central Saanich’s public infrastructure, much of it constructed during the 1960s and 70’s, is given an overall rating of C in the draft document and is in “reasonable condition.”
Aspects needing attention include the district’s underground infrastructure. The sewer system is rated at D+ (poor condition), with “significant investment needed in next decade to replace lift stations and mains.”
That rating reflects the low level of funding currently dedicated to sewer infrastructure, a significant amount of which will reach the end of its useful life over the next decade. Staff call the situation “expected” and write that it can be improved with changes to annual funding and construction.
To this end, the municipality plans to hire a dedicated infrastructure manager to lead the implementation of annual asset replacement programs.
Of the proposed tax revenue increase, nearly 37 per cent will go toward police services, for which the 2022 budget is $364,400 (6.81 per cent) higher than last year. The increase is targeted for additional staff and other items, but primarily to cover existing labour costs – including annual wage increases and other factors outside municipal control.
Policing makes up roughly 26 per cent of Central Saanich’s operational costs, but increases to the police budget have accounted for an average of 50 per cent of property tax increases over the last five years, a disproportionate scenario that will continue to constrain other service levels going forward, staff wrote.
By comparison, fire services account for approximately eight per cent of operational costs, but have contributed, on average, 20 per cent toward overall property tax increases over the last five years. While staffing levels have been gradually increased to meet targeted response times, it is forecast that after 2023, “budget increases will represent status quo service levels and non-discretionary costs.”
The online information session Feb. 10 runs from 7 to 8 p.m., while council budget meeting discussions are scheduled for Feb. 22, March 7, April 4 and April 19.
Individuals can register at LetsTalkCentralSaanich.ca/Budget2022.
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