Sooke council vote defeats Five Year Financial Plan

Two councillors declare conflict of interest and don't vote

The proposed 2014-1018 Financial Plan was defeated in a vote at council on April 14. Opposed were Councillors Maja Tait and Herb Haldane. Councillors Kerrie Reay and Bev Berger declared a conflict of interest and left council chambers. Reay serves on the CREST board and Berger said her husband is a volunteer fireman.

Mayor Wendal Milne said declarations of conflict of interest were, “frankly a stupid mess” and how do you do business?”

Left to vote were Mayor Wendal Milne, Councillors Rick Kasper, Tait and Haldane. Coun. Kevin Pearson was absent.

The proposed budget would have seen a 0.21 per cent tax increase for 2014, but showed property tax increases of 2.98, 2.96, 5.26 and 2.90 per cent over the next four years to total 14.31 per cent over the five-year period from 2014 to 2018.

Mayor Wendall Milne said that from a financial perspective the District of Sooke was healthy. “I don’t think we are in any difficulty.”

Councillor Rick Kasper, Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee,  said the number one priority in 2013-2014 is to be fiscally responsible and Sooke received good value for tax dollars.

“It’s important the future council is mindful of the work done in the past and more importantly in the future… and constantly monitor expenditures,” he said.

In opposing the vote, Tait said she is “troubled by the outlook over the years,” and didn’t like the process that occurred here. “I don’t think the outlook is sustainable,” said Tait.

Haldane said council had made previous resolutions to look into tax reductions and he would not be supporting this financial plan.

The District of Sooke must adopt two bylaws before May 15, 2014, first the 2014-2018 Five Year Financial Plan and then the 2014 Tax Rate Bylaw.

CAO Gord Howie stated that the district can go ahead and prepare the bylaw as it is now and council can then amend it.

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