North Saanich Proposes Tax Increase Of About 5%

Given the state of our current economy, some residents thought that we should have no tax increase at all this year while others suggested that we should spend our way out of the economic recession. I believe that the District worked hard, therefore, to strike a balance between these two very different views of the world at a time when economic gloom and doom dominate the news.

After this week's budget meeting, I am supporting what I believe is a reasonable proposed municipal tax increase of about 5 per cent. In fact, one might say it's rather modest, given that the last few years have seen tax increases well above 5 per cent. At this Mayor and Council's request (with the exception of Councillor Bob Shaw who voted against the 5 per cent cap), staff worked hard to bring all departmental budgets back to just 5 per cent. Director of Finance Ralph Gillis and his staff analyzed the budget according to discretionary vs. non-discretionary spending, meaning the difference between having choice about what we spend and where we spend it and having to meet expenditures for which we have no choice, such as staff salaries, previous capital commitments, CRD levies and surcharges, hospitals, schools, provincial regulations, etc.

In the end, it means that we are trying to keep a lid on municipal spending while ensuring that we maintain our level of services and meet our commitments to the community, now and for the future.

This year's tax rate also means good news for waterfront owners, who lead North Saanich taxpayers with the largest proportional reduction to their property tax. It's also good news for our commercial and business partners as we continue our commitment to lowering the North Saanich commercial tax rate and bringing it in line with other Peninsula municipalities.

Budgeting and taxes are the most challenging exercise for small municipalities like ours, especially in a climate of provincial downloading and global recession. While I think we need to be prudent, we must also continue to move our community forward to meet tomorrow's needs and to plan for the long term.

For more details about North Saanich's budget, please check the District website. The bylaws to enact this year's tax levy will be prepared for our next Council meeting in approximately two weeks. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact Ralph Gillis directly at 250-656-0781. In addition, to get excellent information that makes all of this understandable, I recommend a visit to the District website (you can access it here on my blog) to download the Sussex Report; an excellent overview of the municipal tax system and what it means for North Saanich.