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Sooke squeezes budget to 10.6% hike

Residents get say on budget at April 3 open house
The District of Sooke building on Otter Point Road. (District of Sooke)

Sooke bureaucrats will present a pared-down 2024 budget of 10.6 per cent to council next week, a feat accomplished by dipping into the district’s reserve funds, says Mayor Maja Tait.

The proposed increase works out to $12.26 a month for the average homeowner on the municipal portion of the property tax.

Tait said the district struck a good balance between maintaining services and the need to increase protective services.

“Many of the district’s costs are fixed and can’t be reduced without cutting jobs or programs,” Tait said. “Our big need is to increase protective services, and at the same time getting on with the necessary infrastructure and amenity improvements.”

The District of Sooke will host a budget open house on April 3 from 2 to 7:30 p.m. at Municipal Hall, 2205 Otter Point Rd. Residents are invited to get involved in the budgetary process and learn more about how their tax dollars are spent.

More than 1,000 residents took part in a survey to help shape the budget priorities for 2024. Attendees will learn more about these priorities, which include transportation infrastructure and community development. They will also have the chance to ask questions and provide further feedback to the district council.

LEARN MORE: Budget 2024 | Let’s Talk Sooke

District councillors will review the municipality’s’s annual budget, which is estimated at more than $40 million, during Monday’s (March 25) meeting.

The budget’s key investments include transitioning to 24/7 policing, a new bylaw officer, completion of the Church/Throup roundabout, the Little River Pedestrian Crossing, bridge maintenance and transit, and streetlight and crosswalk improvements.

It’s common for district council to reduce its tax increase.

Last year, council started with a proposed 9.34 per cent increase and finalizing at 6.99 per cent. This year’s budget was originally set at 13.3 per cent.

Municipal services account for less than half of what is collected on the annual property tax bill. In 2023, the municipal portion represented 44 per cent of taxes collected.

Sooke has the second lowest residential tax rate on Vancouver Island, behind only Lake Cowichan.

Sooke’s budget numbers represent the municipal portion of taxes only. They do not include taxes levied taxes levied by other agencies: Capital Regional District, Sooke School District, the Vancouver Island Regional Library, Island Health, the Municipal Finance Authority and B.C. Assessment.

Property taxes are due July 2.

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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