Sooke taxpayers will see a 2.79 per cent property tax increase for 2018, which is less than the proposed 4.5 per cent in the original draft financial plan.
“I’m happy with the budget and look forward to us moving ahead,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.
Based on the average assessed value of $436,690 for a Sooke residence, it means an increase of $30 in property taxes compared to 2017.
The municipality will collect $417,635 more in taxes than 2017, much of the hike going to infrastructure projects, with a focus on roads and sewer. Another major expense is $403,000 for debt servicing.
Sooke is one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, according to Statistics Canada, and its growth has put more pressures on the community in demands for infrastructure and services.
“It’s a catch up. You can’t hold taxes at zero in a rising environment of costs, expenses and expectations,” said Tait. “You will just fall behind or things just won’t get done.”
Council passed its $20.5-million budget bylaw on Monday night.
Last year, Sooke residents saw their property tax increase by 5.5 percent, but the five previous years saw increase near zero percent.
This year’s increase will see the start of a five-year road plan. Last fall, a consultant’s report revealed that 23 per cent of Sooke roads were “poor to failing,” prompting district council to spend $700,000 a year on the plan.
Other major expenditures this year include $850,000 for sewer; $425,000 for a water tender truck for the fire department; Municipal Hall is slated for $200,000 in upgrades; $150,000 for Sooke River Road drainage; $100,000 for community washrooms; and $100,000 on road design work for Charters Road.
Acting chief executive officer Brent Blackhall noted one of the largest expenditures in the budget is for wages.
The district will also be hiring new staff or filling positions that have been vacant for some time, including deputy finance director, planners, finance clerk, building maintenance work, development service clerk, manager of capital projects, building inspector and bylaw officer.
“We need to invest in people,” Tait said.
“It’s growth and as we need to catch up with infrastructure. We need people to carry out the works.”