One per cent cap takes burden off taxpayers

Last week I introduced a motion to cap North Cowichan’s budget increase at one per cent.

North Cowichan’s priority setting and planning for the future has come at a cost.

The new addition to the municipal hall, the expansion and re-organizing of planning and engineering has increased capital and operational costs significantly. These government increases were made during tough economic times.

Increases, combined with the tax shifting since 2009, has resulted in major tax increases on everyone’s property taxes.

I support the sensible measures and systems that have added to the cost of government. The planning we do now in slow times is designed to streamline operations and create attractive investment conditions for increased planned growth. We’re getting ready for when good times return.

Where I depart from administration at this point during the budget review, is how the municipality pays for all the things it wants and needs. From what I can see in the proposed budget, administration needs about $700,000 more this year then it needed last year.

I will ask council to direct the CAO to draft a budget that raises taxes by one per cent or $250,000, and use the surplus, also known as reserves, forestry profits and other means, to cover the rest.

I will ask council not to shoulder the entire cost of future planning onto today’s taxpayer. Let future taxpayers contribute and pay for the parts that have future benefit.

Given the enviable financial position and amassed wealth of assets of North Cowichan, it can easily take that contribution from surplus without causing any harm or great risk to itself. I’m confident we can replenish “reserve” shortfalls in a timely manner on the strength of our capacity to grow and increase revenues without raising taxes.

I encourage folks to watch council debate the budget online next week.

John Koury

North Cowichan councillor