Fire Chief Kenn Mount reviews the fire department budget with a Sooke resident at an open house last Wednesday. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

Public weighs in on Sooke municipal budget

Homeowners face 6.58% tax hike

The average Sooke household can expect to pay an extra $100 this year in municipal property taxes – an increase of 6.58 per cent.

Information about the proposed budget was presented to the public last Wednesday during an open house at Municipal Hall.

“We need to create opportunities for the public to come out and speak and share their thoughts [on the budget],” acting mayor Jeff Bateman said.

RELATED: Last year’s budget added 7.17 %

Bateman is interested in hearing feedback on a number of items that, while identified in this year’s budget, may end up being deferred to coming years.

“A good example is the Whiffin Spit memorial wall that’s in there for $50,000. In our online survey, we asked people what they thought about it. Maybe we’ll find that it’s something people want to defer until a future date in order to lower the tax increase this year.”

Raechel Gray, Sooke’s acting director of finance, said one of the challenges facing the municipality is that some of the budget’s line items are not readily visible to the public.

“We have three new staff positions, for example, and that’s always controversial, but we need those positions to provide the services to the community that they expect and deserve as Sooke continues to grow,” Gray said.

Sooke is the second fastest growing community on Vancouver Island and the fifth fastest in B.C. The CRD has predicted that by 2038 Sooke will have a population of 24,000.

“Those unseen benefits of a budget are always a challenge, but we need to set the stage to prepare the community for that growth, Bateman said.

Not everyone who attended the budget open house was pleased with what they saw.

“First off, a better format would be to have a budget presentation followed by a question period. In this format you have to go around and talk to staff (from each department), and you start hearing the same things over and over,” Norm Amirault, a Sooke resident, said.

All Jones, another longtime resident, felt the budget proposals were out of touch with what taxpayers want.

“I’d like to see some of these people (staff) actually go out and talk to people. I don’t think they’re putting the money in the right places,” Jones said.

Other residents, however, seemed satisfied the budget proposals are reasonable.

“I’ve never seen a period when we’ve had such growth and changes in the community,” Richard Phillips said as he left the open house.

“They seem to have a handle on things.”

Sooke’s budget includes a number of capital projects and purchases.

“We are buying fire engine No. 3 at a cost of $400,000, for example, and we’re on year three of a five-year road improvement plan for another $700,000. [Electric vehile] chargers are in there for $212,000 and Otter Point sidewalk improvements, the Mills Street connector, and, yes, the memorial wall are in the budget,” Bateman said.

“We want people to provide input on those items most important to them as well as hear from people about things that are not in the budget but which should be considered.”

To further gauge residents’ opinion, the District of Sooke has an online budget survey.

The overall expenditures for next year will be $22.5 million. Last year’s budget increase was 7.17 per cent.

Municipal staff will present a draft budget to council Feb. 3. The budget deadline for final approval is May 1.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

budgetSooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Laura Hooper, the head of parks for Sooke, explains the department’s budget to a resident at the district open house last Wednesday. (Tim Collins - Sooke News Mirror)

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for people's help identifying the suspect of a sexual assault that occurred early Oct. 29. (Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD searching for suspect in sexual assault incident

A woman was sexually assaulted at the 800-block of Cormorant Street just before 4 a.m. Oct. 29

Artists, activists and supporters stand at the ‘More Justice, More Peace’ mural in Victoria’s Bastion Square after the letter ‘S’ was painted over in black. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
ACAB removed from Victoria’s More Justice, More Peace mural

New message points to VicPD, City of Victoria for silencing BIPOC voices

Sooke’s Paul Larouche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Hitting the jackpot: Sooke man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Sooke RCMP are looking to add more members on their force, but they will have to seek approval from the District of Sooke before doing so. They say they need five additional members to accommodate 24-hour coverage of the region. (File - Black Press Media)
Sooke needs more officers to accommodate 24-hour coverage

District’s official community plan calls for 1 officer per 1,000 people

An incident on Sooke Road is slowing traffic Wednesday evening. (Courtesy of Mona Hazeldine)
Second driver not found after Sooke Road crash snarls evening traffic

Two vehicles involved in rear-end crash Wednesday evening

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as fake Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Adam Ireton holds his son Weston, along with Kristen and Beckett as they celebrate Weston's last day of treatment for lukemia. (Kristen Ireton photo)
799 days: ‘Super’ Weston defeats cancer

‘Weston is disease-free now, so we will be going into a period of checkups and things until he’s 18’

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Most Read