Esquimalt property tax increase could be nil – again

New construction at Victoria Shipyards and CFB Esquimalt is proving a boon to Esquimalt taxpayers, who may see a second consecutive year of frozen property tax increases.

The township stands to gain more than $11 million in revenue from the federal Property in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program in 2014. PILT pays Canadian municipalities $700 million annually for federal and Crown corporation offices, national parks and other buildings located within their jurisdictions.

Last year, the township received $10.3 million – about 40 per cent of its revenue – from PILT, while this year's windfall will account for 43 per cent of revenue, said Mayor Barb Desjardins.

"Right now, we're looking at either a 1.24 per cent or 1.81 per cent property tax increase across the board," Desjardins said. "But we've asked staff to go back and see is there any opportunity to lower that, because we do have some surplus."

The advantage for Esquimalt is apparent: other Capital Region municipalities are considering property tax increases between 2.61 per cent (Sidney) and 4.5 per cent (View Royal). North Saanich is the only other municipality holding property tax rates at 2013 levels.

Ian Irvine, Esquimalt's chief financial officer, said the township's largest capital expenditure for 2014 will the Admirals Road corridor upgrade, which is already underway and partially offset by a $2.8 million contribution from the gas tax fund.

"The other big ones are a new fire engine for Esquimalt Fire Rescue and two garbage trucks," Irvine said. "And of course, we're looking at additional renovations to both (Archie Browning) sports centre and the rec centre."

Council will discuss the 2014 budget at an April 28 meeting at municipal hall.

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