CVRD’s early budget brings tax increases for all

No matter how you look at it, taxes are going up, Cowichan Valley Regional District officials have confirmed.

No matter how you look at it, taxes are going up, Cowichan Valley Regional District officials have confirmed.

Regional District financial boss Mark Kueber released the local government’s five year financial plan on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, and it shows an overall tax requisition increase of $1,582,423 million (4.88 per cent).

But that’s not to say that’s the increase everyone paying taxes will see.

Anyone that lives in a municipality has those taxes to pay on top of the CVRD portion and so their total tax bill will depend on municipal budgets.

Those living in the CVRD’s electoral areas will pay their taxes at rates different from both the municipalities and from each other depending on the services provided in each area.

The Municipality of North Cowichan will see the largest municipal increase at $232,489 (3.22 per cent) while the Town of Lake Cowichan will see the smallest increase at $2,587 (0.27 per cent). All nine electoral areas will see an increase in their share of the CVRD requisition ranging from a high of $371,174 (7.52 per cent) in Area B (Shawnigan Lake) to a low of $71,307 (3.73 per cent) for Area D (Cowichan Bay). Rates for each area can be found at www.cvrd.bc.ca under the “Financial Information” tab.

The Parks, Electoral Services and Recreation functions are the three services that contain the largest budget increases this time around. A new Arts and Culture service has also been added to future budgets.

It was a foregone conclusion that taxes would be going up. What wasn’t expected was how quickly the CVRD board was able to get through the budget process this year.

CVRD Chair Jon Lefebure is proud of both staff and the board’s diligence to the cause.

“This is the earliest date the CVRD has ever adopted a five year financial plan” Lefebure said. “It took a profound shift in the budget preparation cycle; determination by the board of directors in time and energy; and extreme hard work by the Finance Division and staff throughout the organization to accomplish this feat.”

What the speedy timeline means is capital projects can begin sooner in 2016 than in years past. That “should translate into more favourable pricing,” according to Kueber’s press release.

The Regional District intends to shell out for some high priced projects in 2016 including: $1.7 million for the Trans-Canada Trail; $2.4 million for a new Fire Hall in Area H (North Oyster/Diamond); $2.7 million for a new Arbutus Ridge sewer treatment and disposal system in Area C (Cobble Hill); $2 million for Cowichan Lake’s Meade Creek Recycling Centre; and $1.3 million for upgrades to the Cowichan Lake, Kerry Park and Island Savings Centre recreation facilities.