2.85% tax increase on the table at North Cowichan

The Municipality of North Cowichan is considering an increase in property taxes of 2.85 per cent in 2017

The Municipality of North Cowichan is considering an increase in property taxes of 2.85 per cent in 2017 with a total budget of $33.4 million.

Staff is recommending that the tax increase be spread equally across all the nine property classes in the municipality, including residential.

That’s a significant change from 2016 when council decided to reduce North Cowichan’s light-industrial tax rates by 15 per cent to make them more competitive with other jurisdictions in the province.

The decision saw increases in the taxes in the other categories by 2.95 per cent in last year’s budget.

In a report to council, the municipality’s director of financial services Mark Frame said staff feel that spreading the tax increase equally among all the tax classes in 2017 is “reasonable” and the redistribution of taxes between classes this year is not necessary.

Frame said that’s because the municipality “made progress” in 2016 in bringing the light-industrial category’s tax rates in North Cowichan closer to provincial averages.

Frame recommends in his report that council approve an additional $50,000 for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in the budget for 2017, and an additional $50,000 for the rehabilitation of Somenos Creek.

He said in the report that increasing the budget at the CAC is projected to result in a 4.6 per cent increase in revenues in 2017, while increasing expenses at just 2.98 per cent.

As for Somenos Creek, council approved in principle in December that $100,000 be earmarked in 2017 for the removal of the invasive plant parrotfeather milfoil from the waterway.

Frame said staff have determined that $50,000 be spent this year for a study of the parrotfeather problem and a pilot-removal project.

Frame’s report was scheduled to be tabled and discussed by council at a meeting on Feb. 6, but the meeting was cancelled due to weather conditions.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure said he expects the report will be tabled at a meeting within the next two weeks.

North Cowichan’s deadline to pass the budget is May 15.