North Cowichan – I heard North Cowichan Mayor Lefebure quoted on the radio Feb. 19 as saying they were targeting “stable increases of around three per cent” in the budgeting process. The five-year plan North Cowichan has put out confirms this.
It seems wrong for the mayor, or any elected politician, to have a prescribed notion of stable year over year increases in taxes. Taxes should be based on budgets, which in turn should be based on sober assessments of what the taxpayers need. Taxes should not be based on “let’s do the same as last year plus a set amount”. It is always true that a government will spend at least 100 per cent of the budget it has, so allowing them to add increases automatically will escalate the overspending problems.
Based on figures from North Cowichan annual reports and the latest five-year plan, the tax take, all in, of North Cowichan has increased from just under $16 million in 2004 to a projected $34 million by 2017.
Simple arithmetic suggests that is an increase of 113 per cent over 13 years or roughly 8.5 per cent per year. Maybe some would quibble and say that some of that is water or sewage fees, but regardless, those are still taxes, i.e., money the government levies from citizens to carry out the work of government.
Population, on the other hand, has increased from roughly about 27,000 to about 30,000 over the last 10 years. The rate of population increase, again using simple arithmetic, is about one per cent per year.
Taxes are increasing eight times faster than population growth would suggest is necessary. I think there is something wrong with North Cowichan governance.