VicPD K9 police service dogs Bondo and Maverick have a tug of war in the summer. The department is contracting out its K9 unit to West Shore RCMP to create revenue and reduce its overall budget request from the City of Victoria. Photo courtesy VicPD

New construction revenue in Victoria to reduce property tax increase

VicPD’s K9 unit contracted out to West Shore RCMP to reduce budget

Thanks to expected tax revenues from newly constructed buildings and cost savings in the police department and elsewhere, the City of Victoria has dropped its property tax increase projection for 2018 to 2.61 per cent.

That’s down from the 2.77-per-cent hike previously projected and further from the original figure of 2.8 per cent, which included utility fees. City council’s 2018-19 budget deliberations are due to wrap up Thursday (Jan. 11).

Council proposed allocating a portion of the estimated $2 million in property tax revenue collected from new buildings to reduce the tax increase. The remainder of that new assessed revenue will see $500,000 put into the City’s reserve fund, $717,000 into other programs and $548,000 toward policing.

Mayor Lisa Helps hopes the tax hike can be further reduced when BC Assessment comes back with the finalized numbers for new builds in March. If those numbers are higher than estimated, the added revenue realized will go to cutting the property tax increase even further.

“We heard really clearly during public engagement that [people are] generally really happy with the service they’re getting, and with any new assessed revenue, that we use it to either lower the property tax impact or save for the future,” Helps said.

“This direction to further reduce the tax impact comes directly from … listening to the public, based on the feedback from the budget survey.”

Other savings in the budget come from cuts to original $55-million police budget, representing savings of $371,000. Requests to fund a Real Time Intelligence Centre (RTIC) at $143,668 were withdrawn, and $228,000 less was budgeted for additional staff.

Although the police are asking for less money to fund operations, there will be no changes in their access to service.

VicPD will contract out its K9 Unit to West Shore RCMP, and use that revenue to partially fund staffing increases, which includes the hiring of six new officers. The RCMP will continue to provide VicPD access to RTIC services at no cost for an extra year.

Helps said she doesn’t anticipate any further reductions to City programs already pre-approved during budget workshops held over the last several months.

Council will be approving the 2018 financial plan at 7 p.m. Thursday.

You can read more about the budget at Victoria.ca.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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