View Royal settled on a municipal tax increase of 4.58 per cent, about half of the original hike floated earlier this year.
The increase will add $55 to the average property tax bill, based on a home assessment of $558,000.
The Town initially projected a 9.1 per cent hike to maintain core operations, but in the course of budget negotiations brought that number down by delaying scheduled tax shifts, shrinking contingency funds and extending timelines on some larger planning reports to split costs over two fiscal years, among other departmental cutbacks.
“The amount of belt-tightening that went into this budget is huge,” he Mayor Graham Hill. “I don’t think the public appreciates how much time we spend in these budget negotiations combing through everything.”
The Town revised its five-year capital plan, removing funding for a new fire hall building from its 2012 and 2013 budgets, opting instead to pay incrementally into a reserve fund for the new fire hall over several years.
With its tax increase, View Royal will have a total operating budget of about $5 million.
Of course, municipal taxes aren’t the only ones lumped onto the property tax bill. BC Transit, for example, will increase its tax rate throughout the Capital Regional District by $28 this year to make up for a budget shortfall, which frustrated councillors.
“This is something we can’t control, but we can still tell Transit that we disapprove,” said Coun. David Screech, putting forward a unanimously supported motion to write a letter to the Crown corporation expressing concern at the mounting cost to residents.
View Royal is also supporting the CRD’s proposal to take over the governance of BC Transit, shifting the power away from the provincially appointed transit commission.
Currently only one seat on the seven-member transit commission goes to the municipalities west of Saanich, and it’s currently held by Sooke Mayor Janet Evans, leaving West Shore municipalities feeling out of the loop.
“We can’t bring issues to the commission table, and that’s an ongoing frustration,” Hill said. “We hope to change that.”