Saanich council will consider a report Monday that estimates a property tax increase of 4.73 per cent in 2020. (Black Press File).

Report estimates Saanich taxpayers face a preliminary tax increase of 4.73 per cent in 2020

Saanich staff also questions why council continues to ask for budget reduction scenarios

A report estimates Saanich will have to raise revenue from property taxes by almost five per cent next year, and questions why council continues to waste the time of staff by asking for budget reductions scenarios, when councillors hardly act on them.

These two findings appear in a report from Valla Tinney, Saanich’s director of finance, in which she offers a “very high level forecast” of next year’s budget while seeking approval of budget guidelines.

Tinney’s report stresses that all “estimates are preliminary” in spelling out the larger financial coordinates and circumstances shaping next year’s municipal budget.

It currently calls for a “preliminary” increase of property tax revenues by 4.73 per cent against the backdrop of rising labour costs, infrastructure needs, and declining revenues among other issues. Last year, council approved a budget that included a 5.2 per cent increase in revenue from property taxes with the proviso that almost third of the additional revenue covered the introduction of the provincial Employer Health Tax (EHT), a cost not faced in 2020.

RELATED: Saanich approves 2019 budget, up nearly $26 million from 2018

“The most significant cost driver for the annual budget continues to be labour related costs,” said Tinney in her report.

Labour costs represent 56 per cent of the operating budget, with final figures still emerging after the Saanich Police Association collective agreement expired last year. Two other labour agreements with Saanich municipal staff and firefighters will expire at the end of 2019.

“[So] estimates are required at this point for these employee groups, exempt staff and elected officials,” said Tinney. “Labour will account for an estimated expenditure increase in the magnitude of $2.7 million split between municipal and [police board] employees.”

Tinney’s report also anticipates a police budget in excess of the 3.5 per cent increase approved last year and higher non-discretionary increases for regional services. New positions approved last year will also have a financial effect in 2020.

The report also calls on council to maintain funding levels to replace capital infrastructure, as well as for facilities and information technology requirements.

Tinney’s report also addresses revenues. “Building permit revenues continue to fluctuate, but the long term trend supports that current budget levels continue to be appropriate with conservative increases each year to reflect rising construction costs,” she said. Non-market revenue is also not expected to increase significantly.

“While it is possible that Saanich may experience another 2011 or 2016, the long term estimated growth for the municipality will result in sustained non-market growth of less than 1 [per cent] of taxation,” she said.

Tinney’s report also wonders why council continues to ask for budget reduction scenarios by percentage of tax increase, when it has not acted upon them in recent year.

“As only two operational reductions have been accepted by [council] in the past [two] years, it [would] appear that this historical reduction scenario approach is ineffective and a non-productive use of staff time,” she said. “Staff seek direction in this regard.”

Council will consider the report Monday.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Large scale flood forces Saanich rec centre to close

Extent of the damage unknown at this point

Ringette returns to Greater Victoria

Locals are forming a new ringette association after going more than decade without

First council candidate is missing

RCMP asks that anyone with information contact them immediately

Gift card fraud ends with $2,000 in losses for Victoria residents

Victoria Police Department warning residents to be on the lookout for scammers

Second beach closed to swimming at Elk/Beaver lakes

Island Health, CRD do not recommend swimming at Hamsterly or Eagle beaches

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

POLL: Should there be a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers?

We’ve all heard them, and most likely cursed them under our breath.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies to decrease electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Retired Vancouver Island teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Patrick Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Most Read