Saanich council wrapped up budget discussions by passing a budget that raises revenue from property taxes by 5.37 per cent. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich budget brings 5.37 per cent tax increase

Support was unanimous, but public also heard reservations from Couns. Harper and Taylor

The average Saanich homeowner will pay an additional $139 in property taxes after Saanich council unanimously approved the 2019 budget.

It raises revenues from property taxes by 5.37 per cent, with 27 per cent of the additional revenue flowing towards Saanich’s share of the Employers Health Tax (EHT).

Were it not for this form of provincial downloading, the property tax increase would have been 3.87 per cent, an acceptable figure, said Coun. Judy Brownoff, who supported the budget which balances belt-tightening in some areas with critical staffing additions in other areas.

“I’m quite fine going out [to the public] with this budget,” she said.

RELATED: Saanich councillor calls for additional cuts to tax lift

Coun. Colin Plant agreed. Like everybody else, he said he favours lower taxes, but results from Saanich’s citizens survey leave him with the conclusion that council is getting things right. “I can go to sleep tonight knowing I can live with this [budget], and I think our residents can as well,” he said, adding that he also feels for those individuals who might find the increase challenging.

Among other steps, Saanich arrived at the figure of 5.37 per cent through a one-time transfer from surplus to offset the financial effects of EHT – a move praised by Coun. Karen Harper, who supported the budget but expressed reservations about the staff additions.

Council had earlier approved 18 additional staff, despite attempts by Harper and Coun. Ned Taylor to reduce the number by at least three, if not more. Drawing a line in the sand for future budget discussions, she expressed hope that the approval of these positions in this year’s budget would not encourage ongoing requests in the future. Saanich, she said, should continue to find savings in its operations.

Taylor also supported the budget, but expressed frustration about the apparent unwillingness of his colleagues to make tough decisions.

He called the tax lift “significant” and predicted that it would have a negative impact on affordability for not only homeowners, but also renters. “It’s affecting affordable housing, it’s affecting the affordability of this municipality,” he said.

While Taylor acknowledged the need for additional staff, he drew a sharp contrast between council’s decision to approve 18 new positions for its operations, while forcing the police department to accept a budget below what it had initially requested (Saanich Police will receive resources for two additional staff).

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau defended the staff increase. It will help staff address gaps that have opened up during a decade or so of holding the line. Developers have long lamented processing times for applications, something the additions promise to fix among other concerns.

Plant acknowledged Taylor’s concerns about inter-departmental equity, but added that previous budgets had held the line on municipal staff, while adding resources to police.

Mayor Fred Haynes praised the discourse around the budget, noting staff have found ways to incorporate it. He also said that additional staff will help the municipality grow its commercial base, something that would ultimately help Saanich reduce the tax burden on residents.

“You can’t get a hotel here in Saanich unless it goes through an approval process,” he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Outrigger canoe teams race over two days to raise money for men’s health initiatives

WetDashe for men’s health highlights benefits of year-round sport on the West Coast

SD63 strike officially ends with union’s vote to accept agreement

More than 7,000 Saanich and Peninsula students back to school Monday

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Heritage Haunted House rakes in more than $10,000 to help fill children’s dreams

Spooky fundrasier has been scaring community for 13 years

Northbound lanes re-open along Malahat after small rockslide near Goldstream

Drivers asked to use caution, clean-up crews have finished on-site

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

Fisherman missing near Lake Cowichan’s Shaw Creek

Family is asking for everyone and anyone to keep their eyes open,… Continue reading

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read