Esquimalt municipal staff and council are in the early stages of nipping and tucking the 2012 municipal budget, which, so far, points to a possible 5.18-per-cent tax hike.
The increase includes 4.43 per cent (or just over $1 million) “that was stuff we can’t change,” said Coun. Meagan Brame.
The core budget items include increases to previously negotiated staff wages, and budgets belonging to the Greater Victoria Public Library, the centennial celebrations committee and the Victoria Police Department, among others.
It doesn’t include supplemental municipal budget items or taxes the township will collect on behalf of B.C. Transit, the school board, the province and the Capital Regional District, among others.
“We’re not going to come in below 4.43 per cent, I really don’t think, not without some service cuts,” said Brame, who chaired a recent budget meeting.
“Municipalities can’t keep doing more with less,” she said. “When we keep cutting budgets, the expectations must also be reduced. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
Council has also asked staff what 2.5- and 4.5-per-cent tax increases would look like.
“Everybody wants cheaper taxes but I’m not sure they realize the impact,” Brame said.
Budget deliberations are still in their infancy, and it’s possible that a completely different taxation option could be approved in the end, said Mayor Barb Desjardins.
However, reports that only four people attended the recent budget discussion, which she could not attend, are worrisome.
“(Residents) are obviously looking at a tax increase, and if they have concerns they should show up,” Desjardins said. “You can’t complain after the fact if you don’t have an understanding of the process, and be aware of all the cost implications.”
Budget deliberations continue Tuesday (March 6) and Wednesday (March 7) at 5:45 p.m. in council chambers at Municipal Hall, 1229 Esquimalt Rd.
By the numbers:
Esquimalt tax increases:
2011: 3.9 per cent
2010: 3.9 per cent
2009: 5.02 per cent
2008: 5.5 per cent
2007: 7.5 per cent