A local watchdog group warns that a proposed tax increase of 4.73 per cent in Saanich will further undermine housing affordability (Black Press File).

Watchdog group says Saanich council needs a ‘reality check’ about taxes

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria warns of eroding housing affordability in Saanich

A local watchdog group warns of eroding housing affordability in Saanich.

Laurie and Bruce Kennedy of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria said in a letter to Saanich council that “modest, entry-level homeowners” will undue hardships if council were to raise revenue from property taxes by 4.73 per cent as proposed in a staff report describing the 2020 budget guidelines. “Council and staff need a reality check on what this sort of tax increase means to their citizens.” Staff say in a report estimated figure is “preliminary” and subject to future developments.

RELATED: Report estimates Saanich taxpayers face a preliminary tax increase of 4.73 per cent in 2020

Last year, council approved a budget that included a 5.2 per cent increase in revenue from property taxes with the proviso that almost third of the additional revenue covered the introduction of the provincial Employer Health Tax (EHT), a cost not faced in 2020.

The Kennedys, however, see that figure and the proposed figure for 2020 as part of a larger pattern. “Continuing down this path of exorbitant tax increases will only put more pressure on the ability of Saanich to have any affordable housing and it is time that [council] accepts this fact,” they write.

The larger argument of the letter is a familiar one, which the public also heard during budget deliberations in 2019, when Coun. Ned Taylor predicted that this year’s increase would have a negative impact on affordability for not only homeowners, but also renters. “It’s affecting affordable housing, it’s affecting the affordability of this municipality,” he said.

RELATED: Additional revenue lowers Saanich’s proposed tax increase

But if the concerns about higher taxes and affordability are familiar, the staff report also points that labour costs subject to collective bargaining agreements account 56 per cent of Saanich’s operating budget. Concerns about higher taxes also compete with demands for various services, including police, infrastructure needs, and other capacity challenges, such as information technology, and several councillors have not shied from defending last year’s increase.

Coun. Colin Plant said he favours lower taxes like everybody else, but results from Saanich’s citizens survey leave him with the conclusion that council is getting things right. “I can go to sleep tonight knowing I can live with this [budget], and I think our residents can as well,” he said, adding that he also feels for those individuals who might find the increase challenging.

The Kennedys for their part acknowledge that budget making is not just about keeping taxes low. “We appreciate the difficulties in dealing with the operating budget,” they write. “As we have pointed out in the past, the opportunity exists to control the capital budget by prioritizing new capital projects. This would ensure that we move forward at a pace and cost that the municipality can bear and still allow us to not cut programs or service levels.”

So what would they like to see? “Council needs to insist that we start our budget discussion with a tax increase that simply reflects the cost of living or [two per cent],” they write. “If we start at this number we can dispense with budget reduction scenarios. In this case it would be up to staff to argue why any further increases were needed.”

Megan Catalano, a spokesperson for the District of Saanich, said Monday afternoon, it would not be appropriate for staff to speculate about any potential discussions or decisions prior to the council meeting that considers the topic.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Graffiti clean up costs Victoria businesses roughly $1M a year

Business association teams up with city in campaign to reduce graffiti in downtown

Tour de Victoria: The downlow on detours in the region

Thousands of cyclists participating in ninth Tour de Victoria

Donations still needed to cover cost of Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground, opening Aug. 24

Local fundraisers have collected $150,000 of the required $250,000 in costs

WATCH: Marine security company posts live seal cam at Oak Bay Marina

Seals tend to loiter near the fish-cleaning table

UPDATED: Two-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Passengers destined for Tsawwassen without a reservation should allow for extra time at terminal

WATCH: Family dog missing after fire tears through Metchosin home

Firefighters continue to monitor for hot spots

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Portland, Oregon, awaits right-wing rally, counter protests

Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Victoria Shamrocks open WLA finals at Q Centre in Colwood

Team is evenly matched in championship series against Maple Ridge Burrards

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Excavators help cute kid who copied their dig with his toys stay “safe at work”

Carson Carnegie wakes up at 7:00 am every morning to watch construction work on his street

Most Read