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Highlands passes status quo budget with 3-per-cent tax increase

One third of hike to boost district’s reserves for future infrastructure renewal
The District of Highlands has passed what Mayor Ken Williams calls a status quo budget with a three-per-cent tax increase, which he said maintains current service levels while growing the district’s financial reserves for future infrastructure needs. (Black Press Media file photo)

The District of Highlands has approved its next budget and residents can expect a three-per-cent increase on their taxes, as in recent years.

Mayor Ken Williams said two per cent of the tax lift will go toward general municipal and fire expenses, while the remaining one per cent contributes to the district’s reserves.

“We implemented a policy of asset management a few years ago because the long-term goal is to build up the district’s reserve funds for future infrastructure renewal,” he said. “It’s a very practical course of action. We just build on the three pillars of financial stability, financial flexibility and financial exposure to protect us against any unforeseen events.”

Describing the budget as status quo, Williams said it accomplishes council’s goal of maintaining the level of services residents have come to expect, while still growing reserves. The strategy will allow council to work on such strategic priorities as groundwater protection, climate leadership planning and emergency programming, he added.

While most other West Shore municipalities saw significant increases to their protective services budgets this year, driving higher tax increases, Highlands limited its protective services line item increase to 0.6 per cent, to $527,100. Williams credited staff for their hard work planning for expected operating cost increases and necessary capital investments well in advance.

General government services continues to be the largest expense line item in the budget, increasing 11.5 per cent over 2021’s budget to $1.084 million.

Transportation services saw the largest year-over-year increase in the 2022 budget, rising 55 per cent to $476,000.

Planning services saw the largest reduction in budgeted operating expenses, shrinking by 13 per cent to $261,600. Recreational and cultural services also saw a cut of 1.5 per cent, dropping to $422,800.

“We are very practical and we think this is a great, affordable course of action,” Williams said.

READ MORE: Policing, fire coverage cost increases drive 5.5-per-cent tax hike in View Royal

READ MORE: Policing, infrastructure upgrades drive 4.3-per-cent Colwood property tax hike


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Justin Samanski-Langille

About the Author: Justin Samanski-Langille

I moved coast-to-coast to discover and share the stories of the West Shore, joining Black Press in 2021 after four years as a reporter in New Brunswick.
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