Metchosin’s coffers have been boosted by $2.4 million in provincial funding, as the district looks to tighten its boots with the upcoming budget.
Announced on Friday (March 3), the money is part of a $1 billion package of one-time grants going out to B.C. municipalities to help fund capital projects.
The most recent draft of the district’s financial plan is forecasting an 11.3 per cent property tax hike required to cover the district’s projected spending for 2023, down slightly from the 11.7 per cent forecasted in a draft budget from the cancelled Feb. 21 special finance committee meeting.
“I understand this to be for capital expenses and infrastructure maintenance and would not be applicable for tax relief, per se, or policing funds,” Metchosin Mayor Marie-Terese Little wrote in an email, noting more details are set to come out in the coming weeks. “All very good news for small communities such as Metchosin.”
What impact the provincial funding will have on Metchosin’s budget or planned tax increase is still to be determined. During the special finance committee meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 28), the committee focused on finding savings in the municipality’s transportation services budget – most of which goes towards roads maintenance. The cost went up by more than $100,000 compared with 2022 – transportation was the biggest ticket item overall on the budget, comprising just under a third of the district’s total spending of $6.23 million.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the finance committee went through the transportation budget line by line. Ultimately the committee recommended staff look at fixing roads on a scheduled priority basis, spreading the costs out through the following years.
Metchosin resident Shari Rourke had suggested going ahead with the high tax increase to leave the community’s finances in a better position rather than delaying. She also pointed to other communities like North Saanich which have expanded their industrial zoning in recent years, lowering its reliance on property taxes from homeowners – $2.3 million of Metchosin’s $5.9 million in revenues comes from property taxes.
“We are really struggling with this because what I’m constantly cognizant of is we have people in the community who are elderly, who are on a fixed income and I want to protect them as much as we can,” said Little.
“A lot of things have been kicked down the road. Our fire hall, that should have been replaced a long time ago and now we’re facing a deluge of rains coming into the hall and we just keep patching it, and at some point, we have to make a decision.”
The 11.3 per cent hike is relatively tame compared with the following four years, which are set to all be double-digit increases, peaking at a 20.8 per cent tax hike in 2026. The year 2027 also calls for a 20.1 per cent increase.
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