Property owners in Oak Bay are facing one of the steepest property tax hikes in the region after Oak Bay council approved on Monday an average increase of 7.34 per cent in adopting the 2019-2023 financial plan.
It’s up from last year, when council approved a 5.57 per cent tax increase.
“The 2019 budget reflects an attempt to address long-deferred investment in our critical infrastructure, a move intended to reduce long-term operational costs,” said Mayor Kevin Murdoch.
The average home in Oak Bay is valued at $1.4 million by B.C. Assessment Authority, which equates to a property tax increase of approximately $262 per household, or just over $5 a week.
Oak Bay’s roads, buildings, underground pipes, parking lots and other infrastructure are aging and in need of repair. The increase prioritizes infrastructure maintenance and renewal as it seeks to close an ongoing funding gap for infrastructure costs.
“It is council’s responsibility to ensure the long-term sustainability of our community,” Murdoch said.
Most of the increases in the financial plan are long-term funding commitments to allow for better project planning, Murdoch noted.
Leading figures are a 30 per cent increase of $220,000 in the road repair budget and the first installment of $5.28 million (over four years) for infrastructure renewal.
“Council recognizes the significant impact tax increases have on our residents, however we also know that moving these projects forward will enhance public safety and that delaying them will only result in higher costs in the future,” explained Murdoch.
Oak Bay did reach out to residents through citizen engagement in 2018 and early 2019 with multiple public strategic planning and budget meetings with public input and an open house. It also used the Citizen Budget online budget simulator that allow residents to indicate their priorities for tax allocation. The Citizen Budget was live for one month, Feb. 15 to March 15.
– This story was updated on May 22 to omit an incorrect total projected budget for 2019.