City of Victoria residents are looking at a sizeable jump in property taxes this year as debate begins on the $350-million draft budget.
The proposed 8.99 per cent increase would see the average household’s taxes go up $251, while it would mark a $646 bump for a typical business. The draft 2023 financial plan breaks down into $298 million for city operations and $65.4 million for capital projects.
The city’s most recent strategic plan called for limiting tax increases to inflation plus one per cent. Inflation for Victoria reached 8.4 per cent at its highest point last year and has fallen slightly since.
With that plan ending in 2022, the current council has not yet formalized how it will deal with tax increases going forward. The city started its financial planning sessions last week, where councillors deliberate what will be funded through this year’s budget.
The Victoria Police Department is once again the largest portion of the city’s operating budget and is responsible for just over a third of the tax increase. VicPD is asking for Victoria and Esquimalt to boost its budget by 9.55 per cent this year. That request includes $747,000 for three new officers and four additional civilian staff.
The city said it hasn’t yet included those funds in its draft budget, but it would add another 0.42 per cent to the currently proposed tax increase.
The city says factors impacting the budget include inflation and supply chain challenges, both of which are adding to costs. It’s also seeing more competition and costs for workers amid inflation and low unemployment. Climate change is creating issues for the city’s pocketbooks as well, with a budget report stating increased extreme weather events – involving heat, cold, wind and flooding – are impacting municipal plans.
Victoria expects its parking revenues to rebound to pre-pandemic levels this year. Parking fees and fines account for seven per cent of the city’s revenue, behind taxation (61 per cent) and utility fees (19 per cent).
The draft capital budget this year includes the various programs and projects to upgrade and rehabilitate the city’s infrastructure, staff’s report said. More than half of that proposed $65 million will go toward transportation and equipment.
“The capital plan proposes sidewalk and crosswalk upgrades, cycling network implementation, rehabilitation of streets, park and playground improvements, facility lifecycle renewals and underground infrastructure upgrades for the city’s water, sewer and stormwater systems,” a budget report states.
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