The same two councillors, Maja Tait and Herb Haldane, voted in opposition to the District of Sooke’s 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan at the regular council meeting on April 28. And the same two councillors, Bev Berger and Kerrie reay, stepped out of the council chambers citing a conflict of interest.
Questions arose regarding the use of Development Cost Charges (DCC) because of a shortfall in the district’s revenues and the escalating costs in the engineering department.
As head of the Finance and Administration Committee Councillor Rick Kasper answered Coun. Herb Haldane’s queries as to how the money will be replaced.
“The biggest issue is the pay back component,” said Haldane. “We’re 300 grand a year short.” Haldane was commenting on the shortfall in revenues and the escalating costs for the operation of the sewer system.
“This was never a good deal – never,” he said.
Kasper said the district is faced with a “bit of a dilemma” and the district is allowed to use $295,000 out of the DCC reserve fund. But he said he agrees with Haldane because “in a very short period of time we will have virtually no money in the DCC reserve fund.”
Mayor Wendal Milne stated that the only way out was to look at the EPCOR contract and see if the district should run it themselves. If the district cancels the contract early there would be a penalty to pay. A five-year deal was signed in 2011.
Coun. Tait stated she would be in favour of dismantalling the Finance and Administration Committee because it appeared that the committee was telling council what to do rather than the other way around. In reference to the budget she said there was no monies set aside for maintenance and upkeep for even the municipal hall.
In the end the vote to approve the Proposed 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan and the Property Tax Rate Bylaw passed with Councillors Tait and Haldane opposed. Voting in favour were Councillors Kevin Pearson, Rick Kasper and Mayor Wendal Milne.
Milne stated that he thought it would be best if all of the budget deliberations were made by the entire council in the future and he apologized if there was any confusion.