Colwood City Council approved its budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, along with a property tax increase that falls below the rate of inflation.
The final figure is a property tax increase of 2.8 per cent, which will work out to about $39 per average household.
This is below the rate of inflation, which for Canada in 2011 averaged at 2.9 per cent, and lower than the 3.25 per cent increase in Victoria and the 2.9 per cent increase in Langford.
“We’re really happy about that,” Colwood Coun. Rob Martin said. “We’re happy that we beat both Langford and Victoria as well, that they were both higher.”
Martin, who chairs the strategic and financial planning committee, said that there were challenges for the city’s budgeting, including an 11 per cent hike to its West Shore Parks and Recreation contribution and a similar increase for the Greater Victoria Public Library.
“Even with these increases and us controlling these costs … we’ve been able to do some pretty strong things this next year, or budget at least for them.”
Among the supplementary requests approved were $7,000 for the school crossing guard program and $5,000 for grave site repairs at Colwood Pioneer Cemetery.
Costs associated with hiring an extra West Shore RCMP officer, along with built-in raises, also added challenging expenses, but ended up fitting into the budget. The extra officer is budgeted at $68,500, while the pay raise is expected to be only about $4,000, even though the exact cost is not yet known.
“It’s not dramatic,” said Coun. Gordie Logan, protective services committee chair, “which was a pleasant surprise.”
A new plotter scanner has been budgeted at $10,000. This will allow staff too “digitize and plot large format drawing used by engineering, planning and building,” said a staff report. Martin said this, along with improvements to software, will help speed up processing development permits.
“So we’re doing a lot of really positive things in Colwood, as well as trying to control our costs,” said Martin. “I think both staff and council can be really proud of what we’ve done.”