Esquimalt council approves 2.49-per-cent property tax hike

High-end option will bolster municipal reserves, help cover potential policing transition costs

Esquimalt taxpayers will bear one of the lowest municipal property tax increases in the Capital Region this year.

In a 5-2 vote, council agreed on a 2.49-per-cent increase, believed to be the lowest the township has seen since 1997.

“We heard (Langford has) claimed the lowest tax (increase) in the region, but I think we’ll have to dethrone them,” quipped Laurie Hurst, Esquimalt’s chief administrative officer. Langford is proposing a 2.9-per-cent increase for 2012-13.

After considering eight possible scenarios, ranging from 1.75 to 2.49 per cent, council opted for the package that will restore the municipality’s contingency and capital projects reserve funds to previous levels.

It will also permit the township to bank $59,000, which council informally agreed should be set aside in the event transition costs arise from switching police service providers. The township is currently awaiting a decision from the province on a request to switch from the Victoria Police Department to the RCMP.

If that money isn’t spent this year, it could be rolled into next year’s budget.

Under the approved tax rate, homeowners will pay an average increase of $56 in 2012, while businesses will see a $239 hike.

Coun. David Schinbein, along with councillors Dave Hodgins, Tim Morrison, Bob McKie and Lynda Hundleby, voted in favour of the 2.49-per-cent increase at the April 16 meeting.

“We know we’ve got infrastructure issues coming down the road,” Schinbein said. “And the only way to (deal with) that is to maintain our capital reserves and our other reserve funds.”

Mayor Barb Desjardins favoured a 2.23-per-cent increase that did not include the $59,000 for potential police transition costs. Instead, those could be paid with contingency dollars, she said.

Coun. Meagan Brame also championed the lower rate, though to “honour” a recent decision to cut 20 per cent of the $93,000 doled out in community grants each year.

“We lowered local grants considerably to keep the taxes as low as we could possibly get them,” she said. “Contingency is just that, for the unforeseen.”

Though McKie recognized the blow dealt to the grant fund, he sided with the option that would put extra money in the bank.

“Yes, we need to keep the contingency fund alive because we don’t know what our policing (situation) is right now, so we don’t know if we’re going to get hit with a bill,” he said.

In addition to saving money by scaling back grant dollars, the preferred tax rate was made possible by a $75,000 provincial contribution to Esquimalt’s centennial celebrations. Other savings were found in postponing Lyall Street-Lampson Street traffic studies, worth a combined $70,000, until 2013.

Council is required to sign off on the township’s 2012-13 budget by mid-May.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria car show’s ferry event a highlight for arriving hot-rodders

Grand opening event one of several planned for Northwest Deuce Days

Rickter Scale: The chicken’s ready when pigs fly

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Saanich Police issue warning after nearly 20 break-ins while homeowners away

Police believe suspect is deliberately targeting homes while resident are on vacation

City of Victoria votes to consider funding changes at Royal Theatre

A meeting between the Capital Regional District, Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay will determine further steps

Welcome to Victoria, where a street can have four names

From Oak Bay to View Royal, street names change as the roadways twist and turn

VIDEO: Black bear caught climbing tree in Langford neighbourhood

Triangle Mountain residents on alert following bear sighting

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Driver who killed B.C. motorcyclist receives absolute discharge

Chase family speechless following decision by BC Review Board

Lower gas prices slow annual inflation rate to Bank of Canada’s 2% bull’s-eye

Prices showed strength in other areas — led by a 17.3 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

B.C. moves to preserve 54 of its biggest, oldest trees

Fir, cedar, spruce, pine, yew set aside from logging

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Most Read