Sooke rep warns of CRD ‘budget creep’

Capital Regional District eyes property tax hike for 2016

  • Nov. 23, 2015 5:00 p.m.

As Capital Region District taxpayers reach for their wallet to pay for another tax increase next year, Sooke’s representative on the board warns of an ever-increasing “budget creep.”

“I’ve seen this growth of add-on type services that have come to the region because a lot of municipalities just don’t want to fund it themselves,” said Coun. Rick Kasper.

Recently, the CRD board approved a Safe Route to School program initiated by the metro municipalities. A similar program was created in Sooke in the 1990s, but local taxpayers will now have to help fund the regional program too.

“They fly these things at the regional board table, lobby other municipalities to add on and start imposing services because they have more votes. It’s budget creep,” Kasper said.

CRD directors gave preliminary approval last week to a $217-million operating budget (excluding the regional hospital district and the regional housing corporation). It includes a $1.94-million hike in the amount of property taxes to be collected.

The increase in taxes will see Sooke residents pay about $12.87 next year, a 2.9 per cent increase, while Juan de Fuca ratepayers will see a -4.06 per cent decrease, amounting to a savings of $17.65.

Juan de Fuca electoral director Mike Hicks said while on paper it looks like big savings for local ratepayers, it will depend on where they live. The CRD budget covers six communities within the Juan de Fuca boundary.

“We’ve reduced where we could,” Hicks said.

Tax increases will likely be seen in East Sooke, with the construction of a new fire hall and Otter Point where the fire department needs money for building maintenance.

In Sooke, the majority of the CRD budget goes towards the operation of the SEAPARC Leisure Complex ($2 million). The municipality is also earmarked for a $1.6 million-grant for a new artificial turf field.

“Most of the services we pay for have been in place for many, many years,” Kasper said. “What you see is what you get.”

The CRD’s revenue comes from a variety of sources, including sale of services, user fees, grants and property taxes. Overall proposed budget operating expenditures for 2016 are down about $707,000 from 2015, largely due to decrease in debt servicing costs and a reduction in capital funding, according to a staff report.

Capital projects include increases to the regional parks budget, housing, health infrastructure, improvements in drinking water and sewer systems.

The CRD will seek public feedback on the budget with final approval expected in late March.

Just Posted

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

LETTERS: It’s time to stop looking for excuses

Re: Proposed fishing restrictions will be devastating: officials I understand how those… Continue reading

UPDATE: Woman hit by car in parking lot 93 years old

Driver of sedan backs into older adult walking through lot

Delivery truck downs power lines in Sidney

A tractor trailer delivering eggs clipped a low-hanging wire on Second St.… Continue reading

Stolen West Shore vehicle found in ocean off Oak Bay

SUV was submerged 90 feet from shore at Cattle Point

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Saanich Police investigate store robbery

Store video captures image of suspect

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Car calls 911 on possible impaired B.C. driver

A luxury car automatically calls Princeton police to scene of crash involving alcohol

Most Read