Victoria tax hike guarantee of 3.25 per cent set for one year only

Long-range plan still aims to cap property tax increase over three years

Victoria councillors have given preliminary approval to the city’s 2013 operating budget, in an effort to save $4.3 million over the next three years.

The city will spend $198 million this year, a $3.5-million increase over 2012. That total does not include capital expenditures such as the Johnson Street Bridge project or other infrastructure.

Staff salaries and VicPD’s budget make up about 54 per cent of the total spending amount.

Coun. Lisa Helps said the city delivered on its promise to limit property tax increases to 3.25 per cent this year, but plans to create a three-year budget with the same commitment were delayed.

“We’re waiting on an organizational review that was supposed to come back in January,” Helps said. “Now, we won’t get that review until April. It’s just dragging the process out.”

Non-union staff salaries will be frozen to save about $200,000, while the freeze on council and mayor salaries – a savings of $9,000 – is largely symbolic.

Policing costs will increase by two per cent to $43.7 million in 2013, mostly due to unionized pay increases at VicPD. A second crime analyst was approved for the department at a cost of $85,000, a resource VicPD argues is integral to successful intelligence-led policing.

Councillors will also consider the automation of city parkades this summer, which could save about $300,000 annually, Helps said.

dpalmer@vicnews.com