Colwood’s proposed 2017-18 budget calls for a modest two-per-cent increase in taxation to match the rate of inflation.
“I’m glad that we have been able to monitor and provide a bit of growth on things without over-taxing people. There’s only one pocket we can dip into, no matter what level of government it is, and we have to cover off on a lot of things,” said Mayor Carol Hamilton.
The two-per-cent hike will amount to about $35 more a year in municipal taxes on an average house price of about $500,000 in Colwood.
The municipality’s continued growth has led to an increase in expenses, but as Hamilton noted, that’s also come with a larger tax base from which the City can draw.
The budget has been the subject of committee meetings in March, and public consultation will continue at council’s April 10 meeting before final approval is needed ahead of the May 15 deadline.
Hamilton hopes more members of the public will provide input in the near future, although she admits this year’s budget isn’t “terribly exciting.”
“But it will cover off on everything we need to do and make sure our identified projects have the resources to work with, and put some money in reserves,” she said.
Protective services are projected to take up the largest slice of Colwood’s pie, with a little over $6.5 million split mostly between police and fire.
The City’s RCMP and fire department expenses are projected to see steady increases. Policing costs totalled just under $3.4 million in 2016, but are predicted to rise to more than $4.1 million by 2021. Fire protection cost the City roughly $1.8 million in 2016, and that number is expected to rise to a little more than $2.1 million within the same time frame.
More than $5 million is tabbed for capital and infrastructure upgrades, including ongoing central sewer expansion, coastline erosion, planning and Esquimalt Lagoon bridge repairs.
The completion of new sidewalks and cycle lanes on Metchosin Road, and improved trails at the waterfront, are also in the budget, as is a splash park for Colwood Creek Park and new parks in the Royal Bay neighbourhood.
More than $1 million is allocated to reserve funds.
On the whole, Colwood’s core expenses are projected to top $17 million in 2017 and $18.7 million by 2021.
At the same time, revenues are projected to spike from 2016’s roughly $19.9 million and an expected $22.5 million this year to a high of $26.7 million in 2019, before levelling off to just under $24.5 million by 2021. Government transfers and developer contributions are the reason for the fluctuating revenue totals.
Roughly $16.2 million is expected to be brought in through taxation in 2017, or roughly 72 per cent of Colwood’s total revenue.
The 2016 budget ran at a $726,172 surplus.