Municipal staff are hard at work preparing Sooke’s next budget documents. (file photo)

Municipal staff are hard at work preparing Sooke’s next budget documents. (file photo)

Sooke municipal staff enters budget prep mode

All a matter of priorities, says mayor

The District of Sooke has embarked on the preparation of its annual budget and is striving to balance the books and work to come up with a financial plan acceptable to council.

The process is rather convoluted given that the budget for 2019 is already part of a five-year budget plan, which can be modified in any given year.

Meanwhile, the fiscal year for the community is set out in Section 164 of the Community Charter which states that “the fiscal year for a municipality is the calendar year.”

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The budget work is also required since Section 165 (1) of the same Charter states that “A municipality must have a financial plan that is adopted annually, by bylaw, before the annual property tax bylaw is adopted” and Section 167 (4) of the Community Charter states that “By May 15 in each year, a municipality must submit to the inspector [of municipalities] its audited financial statements for the preceding year and any other financial information requested by the inspector.”

“That means that all the bylaws, a five-year financial plan and tax by-law rate must also be adopted prior to May 14 so they can be forwarded to the office of the inspector on or before May 15,” said interim Sooke CAO Don Schaffer.

Although the terms “budget” isn’t used in any of these regulations, according to Schaffer, that’s exactly what they mean.

“This is something we have to do every year to determine how we can accomplish all the things we want to do in the coming year, while still being mindful of tax dollars,” said Mayor Maja Tait.

“It also involves positioning ourselves for grant applications.”

In the end, said Tait, it all comes down to setting priorities.

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