North Cowichan property owners will see a tax increase of 2.61 per cent in 2018.
Council gave the final reading to its five-year financial plan that set the tax increase at its last meeting on Feb. 7.
Among the additional expenditures that are included in the increase in taxes are a 1.3 per cent increase in inflation, $230,000 in wages for new clerical positions and $208,000 to provide one extra police officer to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment.
The additional RCMP officer will bring the number of police officers the municipality is responsible for from 31 to 32 officers in the detachment, which currently has 59 officers when at full strength.
The municipality had originally anticipated a 3.09 per cent tax increase for 2018 because of the expected debt increases for the initial stage of the new, approximately $23-million, RCMP detachment.
The original plan was for the province to confirm funding support for the new RCMP detachment project by March 31, 2016, with design happening in 2016 and construction starting in 2017.
But the final building options weren’t completed in time to meet those deadlines so the project has been moved to 2018 for design and 2019 for start of construction.
That means that the projected tax increase related to the project will now be phased in over a three-year period that will begin in 2019.
The municipality also plans to hire a technical services specialist, a community planner, a planner and a human resources generalist in 2018.
Mayor Jon Lefebure said in a previous interview that he realizes there are some concerns in the public about hiring new staff, but the need for additional employees reflects the increasing amount of work current staff have to contend with.
The municipality’s deadline for finalizing its budget for 2018 is May 15, but finance director Mark Frame said North Cowichan’s budget is usually set long before then.