The average tax increase in 2021 for residents of the Cowichan Valley Regional District is 2.48 per cent.
The CVRD’s budget for 2021, which was recently passed by the board for its nine electoral areas, ranges from a tax increase of 9.55 per cent in Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls), which will cost the average homeowner $124.96 this year, to a decrease of $3.31 for the average home in Electoral Area D (Cowichan Bay).
Aaron Stone, chairman of the CVRD, said building the annual budgets for regional districts is very complicated compared to municipalities, and the tax rates for each area can fluctuate a great deal depending upon the particular choices each makes for services.
He said the board tried to be as frugal as the members could to keep the tax increases as low as possible to ease the financial burden on property owners during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We decided not to increase funding for any of our existing functions in 2021 unless a business case could be made for it,” Stone said.
“But we did decide to increase the funding to the regional parkland acquisition fund back up to $750,000 per year after we decreased it [to $150,000 per year in 2019] to cushion the blow from the extra expenses related to the creation of the new drinking water and watershed protection and affordable housing services.”
Unlike municipalities that have until May 15 to adopt their budgets for the year, regional districts must have theirs completed by March 15.
Stone said the budget also includes a number of capital projects, including the upgrading of a number of utility and water functions in the CVRD.
“Overall, it was a good budget process with diverse perspectives that led to a good result,” he said.
“If people have questions or concerns about the budget, I encourage them to ask their area directors for information.”
Drafting budgets for the CVRD is a complex process as its annual budget is made up of 180 individual budgets.
These budgets include regional services paid by all district residents, and electoral area services such as planning and service-specific budgets like water and utilities.
The differences in tax rates across the CVRD stems from the amount and types of services each region in the district has agreed to participate in and pay for.
This is different from municipal budgets where the costs are shared equally across the municipality.
The impact on taxes for individual properties will also vary depending on the change in assessment for those properties relative to property assessment changes throughout the region.
Tax increase implications in each area of the CVRD:
• Electoral Area A: Mill Bay/ Malahat
Average home $665,807: Tax increase of 3.48 per cent, or $45.06 per home.
• Electoral Area B: Shawnigan Lake
Average home $642,292: Tax increase of 3.68 per cent, or $54.64 per home.
• Electoral Area C: Cobble Hill
Average home $605,965: Tax increase of 1.3 per cent, or $16.35 per home.
• Electoral Area D: Cowichan Bay
Average home $522,961: Tax decrease of $3.31 per home.
• Electoral Area E: Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora
Average home $521,820: Tax increase of 4.98 per cent, or $53.64 per home.
• Electoral Area F: Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls
Average home $565,911: Tax increase of 9.55 per cent, or $124.96 per home.
• Electoral Area G: Saltair/Gulf Islands
Average home $526,556: Tax increase of 6.46 per cent, or $44.32 per home.
• Electoral Area H: North Oyster/Diamond
Average home $627,268: Tax increase of 2.53 per cent, or $19.22 per home.
• Electoral Area I: Youbou/Meade Creek
Average home $615,088: Tax increase of 6.56 per cent, or $95.40 per home.
• Town of Lake Cowichan
Average home $376,095: Tax increase of 2.56 per cent, or $16.37 per home.
• Town of Ladysmith
Average home $465,232: Tax increase of 3.13 per cent, or $10.77 per home
• City of Duncan
Average home $373,160: tax increase of 2.51 per cent, or $12.22 per home.
• Municipality of North Cowichan/north end
Average home $489,995: Tax increase of 5.63 per cent, or $20.92 per home.
• Municipality of North Cowichan/south end
Average home $485,995: Tax increase of 4.6 per cent, or $27.76 per home.