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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Massive early-morning blaze destroys Vancouver Island home

Firefighters from three departments called in to battle fire at unoccupied residence

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Most Read