The average tax in North Cowichan in 2022 is 2.89 per cent.
Council gave the final reading for the tax increase for this year in its five-year financial plan at its meeting on April 20.
That means the tax increase on an average home in the municipality that’s assessed at $692,987 is $83.05.
In February, projections were that North Cowichan would see a tax increase of 4.22 per cent in 2022.
One of the reasons for the lessening of the tax increase is that North Cowichan and seven other municipalities in southern Vancouver Island had been successful in their efforts to have the province and Ottawa defer the downloading of RCMP E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch charges onto them.
The total costs of the downloading on the seven municipalities was estimated at approximately $3.6 million per year, which would have amounted to an approximately two per cent tax increase over the next three years for North Cowichan’s tax payers.
Mayor Al Siebring said considering that at the beginning of this year’s budget process the tax increase was projected at between six and seven per cent, he’s pleased the municipality had managed to keep the increase under three per cent.
“The projected increase of between six and seven per cent was based on considering ‘all the asks’ that we had for new staff and other expenses that we managed to pare down, as well as the RCMP E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch charges that we managed to take out of the budget,” he said.
“When BC Assessment released its property assessments for the year, the residential tax class really took a hit with increased property values more than the other classes, so we readjusted the rates to keep the residential rates lower, while raising the rates for heavy industry like the Crofton mill and managed forest lands. While we kept the residential tax increase under three per cent, no one likes a tax hike but we have to maintain services and this budget does include some work and projects that had been postponed during the previous two years during the pandemic. I think the budget is a win-win for everyone.”
North Cowichan’s five-year financial plan is calling for a 9.26 per cent increase in 2023, a 4.14 per cent increase in 2024, 4.08 per cent increase in 2025, and 1.96 per cent increase in 2026.
Finance director Talitha Soldera said the increase for 2023 is higher as it includes the reinstatement of some reductions council made to keep the 2022 increase as low as possible, such as a reduction in the capital contribution for parks.
“It also includes the full impact of the debt servicing related to the new RCMP station and includes debt servicing related to upgrades at the Crofton fire hall,” she said.
Siebring acknowledged that some in the community might see council’s efforts to keep the tax rates as low as possible this year and allowing the projected tax increase to be much higher next year as an election strategy in an election year.
But he said that was not a consideration for him or the majority of council.
“If you go back five or six years, the projected tax increase for 2022 was in the eight per cent range, but we got it done at under three per cent,” Siebring said.
“It’s an annual battle and every year is a new year and we look at what we can afford at the time. We always try to balance things and it’s a constant challenge.”
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