Councillors answered taxpayers’ questions Monday, Dec. 10, at an e-town hall meeting about the preliminary 2019-2023 financial plan. GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo poised for large tax hike rebuild from previous council

Preliminary 2019 budget now includes potential tax increase of 5.08 per cent

Nanaimo’s new council says this year’s budget and its potential 5.08-per cent property tax increase are a part of rebuilding the city.

Councillors answered taxpayers’ questions tonight, Dec. 10, at an e-town hall meeting about the preliminary 2019-2023 financial plan.

Council approved all the finance and audit committee recommendations from last week’s budget deliberations, then added one more staff position to bump up the projected tax increase from 4.97 per cent to 5.08 per cent.

The preliminary budget is to receive three readings Dec. 17, but Coun. Don Bonner and others said council will continue to look at the budget in the new year.

“A number of us want to be able to turn the ship and we’re barely getting to the wheelhouse,” he said. “Once we’ve got our sea legs down, we’re be able to make the decisions and start moving this ship in the direction we want and tailoring our budget for that.”

Coun. Erin Hemmens agreed, saying budgeting has been a difficult process both due to the timelines and because council doesn’t have a strategic plan as a guide.

“As for the nuts and bolts of where we’re going to pull from, what we’re going to cut, what we’re going to grow, this budget is reflective, I think, of being six weeks on the job,” she said.

Bonner said staff has “done a phenomenal job” so far on the financial plan and said he looks forward to continuing conversations both with council and with the general public.

“This budget, for me, and I think speaking for council here, has been really about rebuilding,” said Coun. Ben Geselbracht. “I think property taxes have been extremely low over the last few years because insufficient funds have been put into asset management, services have been cut, for example like bylaw enforcement … services that the community expects.”

Coun. Zeni Maartman criticized the previous council for its budgets including one “negative budget” year where the tax increase was zero while factoring in a one-per cent increase to asset management.

“By not being fiscally responsible, they have put this council in the position that if we want to get back to just status quo before we start making our plans, we actually have to increase property taxes appropriately,” she said.

Coun. Tyler Brown added that he’s impressed with “staff’s ability to achieve what they have achieved over the last several years considering the lack or resources they were given.”

The one new staff position added to the preliminary budget Monday is that of an active and sustainable transportation coordinator. Brown had motioned to add the position at a finance meeting last week and it was defeated on a tie vote, but passed 6-3 on Monday.

“I would like to see a position that sets the tone that this type of development of infrastructure is supported in our city,” Brown said. “It ensures all modes of transportation are part of our collective ethos and so that we can have a healthier, more equitable, more green city.”

Councillors Jim Turley, Ian Thorpe and Sheryl Armstrong voted against adding the position.

Also of note, Turley made a motion to stagger in an increase of four firefighters over three years instead of adding all four in 2019, but no other councillor seconded his motion.

READ ALSO: Councillors want to re-evaluate city’s economic development model



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

The Baynes Sound Connector cable ferry. Black Press file photo
Baynes Sound Connector delayed due to emergency call

Paddleboarder was in distress near Union Bay Thursday

Premier John Horgan and Rob Douglas, BC NDP candidate for Cowichan Valley, meet with Cowichan First Nation elders, as they demonstrate spearfishing along the river. (Submitted)
Horgan acknowledges A&E sector hit hard by COVID-19, but showing signs of recovery

Hollywood North doing better than Hollywood South, Horgan says

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read