North Cowichan tax increase may be lower than expected

Projected tax increases for 2017 in North Cowichan could be significantly lower than anticipated

Projected tax increases for 2017 in North Cowichan could be significantly lower than anticipated, according to municipality’s director of financial services.

Based on revised projections for 2017, Mark Frame said that it’s anticipated that the property tax increase could be about 2.78 per cent, not 3.74 per cent as indicated in the municipality’s 2016-2020 Financial Plan.

Frame said there are number of changes to 2017’s budget plan since the last tax projection was made.

They include changes to the financing schedule for the final stage of the ongoing dike project at Somenos Marsh, and delays in the construction of the new, approximately $23-million, detachment for the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.

But Frame made it clear that the new projected tax increase for 2017 is very preliminary at this stage.

“This figure is subject to significant change, based on the timing of the approval and construction of the new RCMP detachment,” he said.

Council typically approves the tax rates for each year in the early spring.

Frame said staff would also like the municipality to continue the town hall meeting format to gather public input into budget priorities. The meetings became part of the budget process in 2016.

Four town hall meetings, which saw approximately 170 people attend in total, were held in late January in different parts of the municipality.

In the meetings, staff presented the proposed budget and people were invited to ask questions and share comments on what they felt North Cowichan’s spending priorities should be for the year.

But Frame suggested the meetings be held earlier for the 2017 budget.

He said that would allow council to receive input prior to finalizing preliminary operating budgets, and receive input regarding projects to be included in North Cowichan’s capital expenditures plan for the year.

“We propose to hold the town hall meetings in late October and incorporate the input into our budget development in November and December,” Frame said.