The projected tax increase for 2023 in the Municipality of North Cowichan is now at 4.82 per cent, down from the 5.6 per cent increase that was projected early in January.
Council gave the first three readings to its five-year financial plan at its meeting on Feb. 21.
In a report to council, North Cowichan’s financial director Talitha Soldera outlined the reasons for the decrease, including the fact that the municipality has determined that there will be sufficient funds in its forest reserve fund to cover the entire budget for forestry for 2023, reducing the taxation impact by almost $50,000.
As well, Soldera said North Cowichan’s contribution from Fortis BC for the year is approximately $50,000 higher than initially anticipated, allowing for a further reduction in the tax increase.
All utility companies pay one per cent of revenue earned within municipal boundaries in lieu of property taxes on things like transmission lines.
Soldera added that, based on BC Assessments’ completed assessment roles, it appears that new investment in North Cowichan will cover about 1.2 per cent of the total tax increase when the revised assessment roll is issued at the end of March.
For all these reasons, the projected tax increase for 2023 has dropped to 4.82 per cent.
The municipality’s five-year financial plan bylaw, which includes the tax increase for 2023, is on council’s agenda for adoption at its meeting on March 1.
The plan calls for a 5.72 per cent tax increase in 2024, a 0.93 per cent increase in 2025, a 3.29 per cent increase in 2026 and a 1.39 per cent increase in 2027.
At the council meeting on Feb. 21, Coun. Bruce Findlay said he can’t vote for the 4.82 per cent tax increase.
He said that the tax increase, added to increased garbage fees and water and sewer parcel taxes, particularly in the Crofton area, is too much for the taxpayers to bear.
He suggested that the municipality postpone its switch to automated garbage collection for a year which would, as well as save money, give North Cowichan time to study its implications.
“Our residents need a break,” he said.
“I’d also recommend that council rescind our cost of living increase and show leadership in trying to keep costs down.”
Coun. Tek Manhas said the last council took a 10 per cent cut in pay during the pandemic as many in the community faced financial challenges.
“We did make that sacrifice then and I’d have no issue moving forward with that again,” he said.
Coun. Chris Istace said it was his choice to run for election, but he hired a person to look after his business while he’s on council and he has significantly reduced his personal income as a result.
“I do need the income from this to offset my cost of living,” he said.
The motion to give the financial plan three readings passed, with Manhas and Findlay opposed.
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