It took a little longer than expected, but the residents in the District of Lantzville will see a property tax increase this year.
Lantzville councillors voted 4-2 to approve the 2017-21 financial plan along with the 2017 tax rate bylaw on Monday. As a result, residents will see 4.29 per cent property tax increase.
Councillors approved a 2017 budget that includes a number of infrastructure expenses such as $1,286,00 for Aulds Road reservoir replacement; $736,000 for Lantzville-Nanaimo water pipeline construction; $450,000 Rumming Road drainage replacement; $304,298 Peterson Road replacement and $245,000 for Manhattan/Bayview Park Drive replacement.
The district will also spend $57,500 on an economic development strategy; $27,200 on repairs and maintenance for Costin Hall and Heritage Church; $36,225 to Koers Engineering for the water master plan and $25,000 for branding this year.
Taxpayers will be on the hook for a $3,000 firefighter appreciation event, which was approved earlier this year by councillors. The district already provides the firefighters with a have a Christmas party that costs taxpayers $1,000 annually.
Coun. Bob Colclough said he’s pleased with the financial plan. He said no one likes to see taxes increase, but with the number of maintenance projects the district is embarking on this year it is justified.
“It’s like anything else if you don’t do the maintenance and stay on top of things it gets more expensive,” he said. “I think our roads are the best example of that because you can have a small issue with the road somewhere and if you fix it might cost you $2,000, if you leave that for a year it might cost you $20,000.”
Coun. Denise Haime, who was absent from Monday’s vote, said the financial plan isn’t transparent and lacks clarity for residents. She said she believes many of the expenses will benefit developers instead of Lantzville residents.
“I don’t see anything in it that supports the existing residents. A lot of our increases are for things that they are not going to see a benefit. There seems to be a lot of downloading onto existing residents for the benefit of developers,” she said.
Haime believes the financial plan is incomplete because it doesn’t reflect the fact that councillors approved hiring a full-time community planner, adding that more analysis by councillors should have been done before any approving any financial plan.
“We could have done a better job of reviewing our budget,” she said.
The district has not officially announced converting its current community planner position into full time, however the information was disclosed during a council meeting last week.