They had to dip into rainy-day money, but Town of View Royal councillors have adopted a five-year financial plan that includes a 3.58 per cent increase in property taxes for 2012.
For the average valued home – $558,459 – the increase works out to $1,313, or about $45 more than last year’s municipal tax bill.
This is lower than the 4.58 per cent rise in property taxes in 2011, but still above the rate of inflation, which for Canada in 2011 averaged at 2.9 per cent.
Councillor John Rogers said that when you compare the increase to other communities proportionally, it’s at an acceptable level. None of the cuts made to keep the tax rate low particularly concerned Rogers, but he would like to have seen the project to put a sidewalk on Burnett Road go ahead.
“(Finalizing the budget) was an arduous process that we’d gone through and there were many things that we were faced with,” Rogers said, “but we did make significant enough cuts to bring it down to a reasonable level.”
As the only councillor who voted against the motion, Ron Mattson said he has concerns over the budget’s use of nearly $300,000 in surplus funds to help keep taxes down. He believes they have merely delayed dealing with spending issues, and that residents could be faced with a sizable tax increase in 2013.
“We’ve taken money out that isn’t replaceable. We make the increase look a lot better than it is because we’ve taken one-time money and put it in, but it’s all going to show up next year.”
Mattson believes that View Royal spends too much on unnecessary projects and that a planned audit of money already being spent needs to go ahead.
With a potential 12 per cent budget increase to pay for the new fire hall, as well as six per cent to cover the $300,000 coming out of surplus this year, Mattson is concerned council will be facing an 18 per cent increase next year even without any additional expenses or capitol projects.
“It’s not looking very pretty for next year,” Mattson said.