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

District of Saanich

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

Just Posted

New development will pay homage to fallen World War One pilot

1015 Cook Street will become 28 market rental homes with mural

Fish habitat enhancement champions set to start next project in Saanich

The latest stage of restorations to Colquitz Creek runs Aug. 4 to 14

Saanich Peninsula business leader calls for education campaign on social distancing

Chamber boss Denny Warner says Sidney demographics make consistent safety protocols necessary

PHOTOS: Families, spectators wave goodbye to Navy Task Force from Victoria shorelines

HCMS Winnipeg and HCMS Regina sailing to Hawaiian training exercise, further deployments

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

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

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

Cowichan RCMP use spike belts to end car chase — man in custody

The driver was arrested at the scene a short distance from his vehicle

COVID-19 tests come back negative for remote First Nation

“There are no suspected cases in the community at this time.”

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

Most Read