The overall average tax increase proposed for property owners in the Cowichan Valley Regional District for 2019 is 9.01 per cent.
The proposed tax increase is significantly higher than last year due to the creation of two new services, drinking water and watershed protection and affordable housing, which were the subject of two successful referendums that were held at the same time as the municipal elections in October.
These two new services make up 3.52 per cent of the proposed tax increase, totalling $1,250,000, in 2019.
A further 0.21 per cent increase, or $76,192, is due to an increase in rates for the Vancouver Island Regional Library, leaving a 5.43 per cent increase, or $1,929,367, for existing services.
The CVRD’s board of directors discussed the proposed budget at its meeting on Feb. 27. and board chairman Ian Morrison said it was decided that efforts would be made to reduce the proposed tax increase and the board would meet again to discuss options at a meeting on March 13.
The CVRD is required to finalize its budget by the end of March.
“Obviously, every director wants to see that proposed tax increase reduced,” Morrison said.
“The two new functions make up more than three per cent of the tax increase, and that was voted for in the referendums, but I’m still not happy with the other proposed 5.5 per cent increase. There’s not a lot of meat on the bone to cut, but we’ll take another look at it.”
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, 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.
Talitha Soldera, the CVRD’s assistant finance manager, said in a staff report that 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.
“Details of the impact on properties and jurisdictions is contained in the schedules available on the CVRD website,” she said.
The largest proposed tax increase by percentage in the CVRD for 2019 is in the north end of North Cowichan, where the owners of an average home worth $423,899 would see a 16.29 per cent increase, totalling $50.24.
The lowest proposed tax increase by percentage is in Electoral Area G, Saltair/Gulf Island, which would see a tax increase on an average home worth $448,052 of 7.06 per cent, or $44.16, in 2019.
For full details of the CVRD’s proposed budget for 2019, go to www.cvrd.bc.ca and check out the finance section.