Posted by: Editor | March 17, 2010

Council Continues Bean-Counting

Council Continues Bean-Counting

-Latest budget figures set property tax increase at 4.54%

As Esquimalt Council met this week in an ongoing effort to determine the coming fiscal year’s budget, one thing became certain. Property taxes are going up. The only question is by how much? That’s the bad news.

Some good news, however, is that Council did manage to reduce their original draft tax increase from 4.78% down to 4.54%, not much of a reduction but it is a start. Council seems somewhat committed to getting that figure down even further and will continue deliberations on the budget until a mid-May deadline.

"Not comfortable with 4.78%" - Councillor Hundleby

“I am not comfortable with 4.78%,” said Councillor Lynda Hundleby. “This is especially hard on people with fixed incomes in a difficult economy.”

Council came up with the additional savings mostly by eliminating a $50,000 line item to hire a consultant to help the municipality design a Development Cost Charge (DCC) model that would create additional revenue by charging developers to assist with the costs of municipal infrastructure needed to serve additional density added to the community.

“I asked myself what would I pull out and what stood out as the least harmful,” added Hundleby. “This item seems to have the least impact.”

Mayor Barb Desjardins and Councillor Don Linge disagreed.

“We need to have the ability to pull in those extra dollars through Development Cost Charges,” said Desjardins. “We cannot continue to defer this item year after year. It’s going to be a pinch, but in the longterm, its going to be beneficial.”

“We are not doing ourselves a good service over the long term,” said Linge. “Even though I don’t like tax increases, sometimes we have to do it for the sake of good planning.”

The majority of Council thought otherwise and voted to remove the item.

Currently, the draft budget is mostly status quo. An attempt by Councillor Randall Garrison to increase municipal funding for community group grants was defeated.
“This is a tough year for everyone,” said Mayor Desjardins. “Municipal governments cannot take on the added burdens created by government downloading.”

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