The Town of View Royal is taking an innovative online approach so residents and businesses can see how different spending choices might affect their property taxes.
Citizen budget, a new simulation tool set to roll out on March 13, will expand public engagement by enabling residents to use their property assessment to see how much they pay for a variety of municipal services. Some of the services outlined include police and fire protection, roads and sidewalks maintenance, recreation, parks and trails, and planning and development.
“View Royal council is unanimous in its support of this important tool that enables citizens to participate in the budgeting process,” said View Royal Mayor David Screech in a statement. “Our hope is that citizen budget will not only help citizens provide feedback but also understand some of the important choices and trade-offs involved in the budgeting process.”
A slider tool within the website allows people to increase, decrease, or maintain service levels in each area to see the potential impact it will have on their annual municipal property taxes. Those who do not know their assessment or are not View Royal property owners can use the default assessment value in the program. People who don’t have computers can participate at the local library or by using a computer station for that purpose at View Royal Town Hall at 45 View Royal Ave., where paper forms will be available as well.
The two-year pilot project will show how many residents participate and what their experience was like using the tool. Data captured this year will be considered in the 2020 municipal budget. Council will also use feedback on the user experience to explore future opportunities to use this citizen engagement web-based tool.
The tool provides all residents with the opportunity to participate in the budget process and gain an understanding of how their tax dollars are allocated, noted Kim Anema, chief administrator for View Royal. “Residents are encouraged to consider a budget that reflects their priorities and values, and we’re looking forward to reviewing the results as our financial planning continues.”
Citizen budget is open for business from Friday, March 13 to Tuesday, March 31 at viewroyal.ca.