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Sooke tax hike tops 5.5 percent

Residents will see an increase of 5.57 per cent tax increase this year.

Sooke residents will see a rise in property taxes by as much as 5.57 per cent this year, after council approved its 2017budget Monday night.

The budget is worth $19.4 million.

Property owners, based on average assessment, will pay an additional $56 this year.

The increase where it impacts taxes is service level demands, mainly in administration, building inspection and engineers,as well as the improvement of critical infrastructure such as roads. As such, the bulk of the budget, $12.6 million, goes towards municipal operations.

“Nobody likes a tax increase, but we’ve held them near zero for five years,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait, adding a growing local economy and population leads to a decrease in service, making it hard to keep pace.

“This is providing us an opportunity to catch up and to address some major infrastructure needs in our community, as well as the municipal offices.”

Tait pointed out Municipal Hall is long overdue for its own maintenance and repair, mostly regarding its fire sprinkler and plumbing systems.

Capital projects will receive a much-needed $4.4 million, focusing on improving roads, which have rapidly declined due to an unsettled winter season.

“This winter kicked the crap out of our roads,” said Rob Howatt, district director of development services.

A total of $7.6 million will be invested in community capital projects and capital upgrades over the next five years.

Remaining chunks are $1.1 million for transfers to reserve funds, as well as $1.3 million for debt servicing. Minor changes to the budget include an additional $1,000 to the community grant program.

Since the sewer operation was moved in-house, the sewer fund essentially pays for itself, Tait added, which means there isno increase to the sewer parcel tax rate.

Capital Regional District taxes have gone up as well, albeit they vary community to community.

Sooke will see an increase of 1.72 per cent, meaning an average Sooke home assessed at $384,271 will go up by $6.75 fora tax bill of $448.57 for CRD services.