Sooke council has voted for a 4.01 per cent property tax hike for next year, down from the 6.58 per cent first proposed.
This year Sooke taxpayers will pay $63 in municipal property taxes, based on an house price of $500,985
The increase follows five years of tax hikes. Last year’s budget increase was 7.17 per cent.
Councillors on March 9 gave third reading – one step from final approval – to a $23.8-million budget, and came after weeks of back-and-forth between staff, council and residents
District staff began laying out the ground work for this year’s budget in November, and held six public budget session.
Some residents at an open house in December suggested the budget proposals were out of touch on what taxpayers wanted. Others seemed satisfied in the direction council was taking.
Still, council told staff to suggest a trimmed budget. Staff came back with several scenarios.
In the end, the 2020 budget approved by council picked and chose among staff options.
The new budget includes spending for a records management vault ($57,000), building repairs ($275,000), furniture replacement ($25,000), transit stops and street lights ($20,000), Otter Point Road sidewalks ($1.1 million but– costs shared with other levels of government), website redesign upgrade ($25,000), DeMamiel Creek Crossing study ($50,000), DeMamiel Creek Connector ($201, 720) and construction of a multi-sport court box at Sunriver ($1.2 million – shared with other levels of government), and roadway designs for Church Road widening ($200,000) and Throup Connector ($256,000).
Council also OK’d the purchase of a new fire truck for $400,000. The truck was bought over two years. The district is on year three of a five-year road improvement plan for another $700,000.
The district will hire three senior positions this year – senior planner, communications co-ordinator, and environmental technologist.
The district will also purchase new theatre seats for Edward Milne C0mmunity School ($25,000), fund a school crossing guard ($9,000), an extra $10,000 for Canada Day festivities, which this year will include a loggers show.
The District of Sooke also collects money from other levels of government, including the Sooke School District and Capital Regional District.