Colwood residents can expect to see a 6.43 per cent overall increase to their municipal taxes in 2023 now that council has approved the city’s 2023-2027 financial plan.
With a unanimous vote on Monday (March 13), council approved the new $54.46-million balanced budget, which includes $27.5 million in operating expenses, $19.75 million in capital spending, $6.52 million in transfers to reserves and $540,000 in debt repayment for 2023.
“I’m exceptionally happy with the budget. I’ve been talking with some of the other mayors, and right now we are coming in as one of the lowest tax increases in the region,” said Mayor Doug Kobayashi. “It was pretty tight, but staff just did a phenomenal job on it to hit the targets we set … they’ve set us up for success.”
According to the financial plan document from the city, increased policing services were the main driver of the significant tax increase. During budget deliberations, the draft plan originally resulted in a 3.6 per cent tax increase, but that was before council endorsed increasing policing services.
“Considering our inflation rate is around 7 per cent, we did a fantastic job. It was just the extra RCMP officers we have to supply and the RCMP building expansion, hence the 6.43 per cent increase,” said Kobayashi.
The tax increase was tempered by increasing user fees and new construction taxation.
Among the operating expenses line items, several saw significant increases compared to the 2022 budget.
Policing saw the largest increase of $519,000, followed by sewer services at a $341,000 increase and boulevards with an increase of $271,700.
While most operating expenses increased year over year, some saw a decrease. The largest was public works, which saw a $58,600 decrease to its budget, followed by storm sewer services shrinking by $24,700, and information technology at a $11,500 reduction.
Kobayashi noted this year’s budget was still largely based on the strategic priorities set by the previous council, but that will change moving forward as the current council is soon to develop their own strategic plan which will guide future budgets for the remainder of their council term.
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