Saanich council votes 6-3 in favour of further reducing the property tax increase for 2020 from 3.74 per cent to 2.4 per cent. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich council trims property tax increase to 2.4 per cent amid COVID-19 pandemic

Six of nine councillors were in favour of the reduction

Saanich residents will find their wallets aren’t as light when the property tax payments are due as council has further reduced the property tax increase for 2020 in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a council meeting on April 20, six of nine councillors voted in favour of further reducing the property tax increase to 2.4 per cent – based on the annual consumer price index – and direct Saanich staff to look into how to implement the reduced increase.

At the end of March, council approved a status quo budget for 2020 resulting in a tax increase of 3.74 per cent – instead of the 7.2 per cent increase in the initial proposed budget – in an effort to reduce the financial burden on residents during the pandemic, Mayor Fred Haynes said. At this time, council heard that amendments could still be made to the 2020 financial plan bylaw prior to the May 15 deadline.

READ ALSO: Saanich to consider reducing 2020 property tax increase as pandemic continues

On April 20 – in what Haynes called a “historic” meeting – council reopened the 2020 budget and reviewed a report from the municipality’s director of finance, Valla Tinney, asking that the property tax increase be reexamined.

In the report, she explained that due to the pandemic, many municipalities have opted to adjust their initial financial plans to reduce the burden on residents. She added that council had also received several requests from the public asking for the tax increase to be reduced.

After what Haynes called a “robust discussion,” council voted in favour of reducing the tax increase to 2.4 per cent – Couns. Colin Plant, Rebecca Mersereau and Zac de Vries were opposed.

READ ALSO: Saanich trims proposed property tax increase in light of COVID-19

Plant felt the 2.4 per cent increase would not help residents enough, explaining that the property tax increase should be reduced to zero.

Mersereau also opposed the motion and equated it to “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic ” as she felt the reduction would not have enough of an impact on the residents experiencing the financial impacts of the crisis – specifically renters who would not benefit unless landlords pass on the savings. De Vries agreed, noting that the people who are vulnerable in the pandemic aren’t likely to be helped by the tax increase reduction. He added it could just be shifting the financial hardships to next year.

READ ALSO: Saanich council opposes request to nix amalgamation study due to COVID-19

Municipal staff were directed to seek “mechanisms to reach the 2.4 per cent increase” and bring the options back to council at the April 27 meeting. Haynes said this means the discussion is not over as the logistics need to be sorted to ensure that the municipality can still operate and provide necessary services while providing residents with financial relief. He added that the 3.74 per cent tax increase was previously deemed the minimum required to keep Saanich running, so staff will be looking at ways to cut costs.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

coronaDistrict of SaanichProperty taxes

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

Stelly’s grads shocked after ‘anonymous friend’ pays for dinner

Friends took limo to Deep Cove Chalet to celebrate after graduation festivities cancelled

Saanich serves up virtual Strawberry Festival

Residents invited to look back on 54 years of festivals

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

VicPD investigating possible hate crime on BC Transit bus

A young Black man was randomly struck by a Caucasian man who he did not know

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Campbell River’s defunct cruise ship terminal to undergo evaluation for future plans

With no cruise ship coming through, the $16million terminal has been a white elephant for over 13 years

Most Read