View Royal council has approved a mostly status-quo budget that will see a 5.5-per-cent property tax increase for 2022.
Council passed all three readings at a regular meeting April 19, with formal adoption set for next month. Mayor David Screech said council’s goal with this budget was to increase spending only where it was required to maintain the level of services residents have come to expect.
“I think we have a clear mandate from residents that they like the level of services that are provided in View Royal,” he said. “We would obviously prefer if the tax increase was not 5.5 per cent, but we are living in difficult times in terms of inflation and increasing costs.”
He added this year’s budget aims to revert back to covering cost increases with tax increases rather than pulling from surplus funds. The previous two budgets used that strategy to help ease the burden on taxpayers, and make up for lost revenue from the temporarily shuttered Elements Casino.
The main driver of the tax increase was protective services, with both View Royal Fire Rescue and West Shore RCMP expenditures increasing. Spending for protective services – the largest line item on the budget – will grow five per cent over 2021 to $4.94 million.
“The RCMP recently signed a new contract and there is a fairly significant increase in that to bring them on par with other police officers across the country,” Screech said. “During COVID we added new positions to the fire hall and we are seeing the full impact of that as well.”
Parks services operating expenses saw the largest year-over-year increase, rising 18 per cent to $885,818 while development services saw the largest cut at 17 per cent, down to $217,112.
Screech said there were other capital projects council would have liked to have included, but the decision was ultimately made to put them off until a clearer picture of the town’s finances post-pandemic emerges.