Oak Bay council unanimously approved the budget and financial plan for 2018-2022 on Monday that includes a a 5.57 per cent tax increase.
“Like many communities, Oak Bay is dealing with significant infrastructure and contractual expense challenges,” said Mayor Nils Jensen. “Over the past year council has undertaken considerable work to understand the condition of our infrastructure including roads, underground pipes for sewer, water and drainage and our buildings and facilities. We now have that information, have shared it with the community and are committed to responding to the challenges ahead.”
The increase stems from a 2.55 per cent increase to police, fire, and municipal contracts; one per cent increase to infrastructure renewal reserve; 0.7 per cent to pavement rehabilitation; 0.5 per cent to the library; as well as some increases in grants and other operational areas.
“Last year (2016) taxes were made artificially low by shifting funds from reserves and underfunding capital projects. It was the reason I couldn’t support that budget,” said Coun. Kevin Murdoch. “This year, we are paying for it, but it is a relief to see council at least recognize we will have to address the infrastructure shortfall.”
“It is clear that we must spend more on infrastructure so we can all continue to experience the quality of life that we enjoy today. We also owe it to our children, grandchildren and future residents to begin to more aggressively respond to our infrastructure needs,” said Jensen.
In numbers, the 2017 taxes were $21,471,427 and the 2018 taxes are $22,666,822, making an increase of $1,195,395 or 5.57 per cent, according to Murdoch.
“While the average house taxes will go up by around $150, the average water bill will also be going up by around $80, and regional increases aren’t known yet. Council needs to recognize that the cumulative burden on homeowners is substantial and more work from council is needed to keep overall costs in check,” said Murdoch.
On the tax bill residents will see increases for the School District, Capital Regional District, Greater Victoria Public Library and BC Transit. These are separate authorities, wth taxes are collected by the district and then transferred.