So North Cowichan council is ruminating about a 5.92 per cent tax increase next year. The reasons given include the long planned and important new police station: 2.1 per cent; inflation: 1.1 per cent; wage increases: one per cent; miscellaneous increases: 0.6 per cent; and more miscellaneous increases: 1.12 per cent.
Yup, it adds up to a 5.92 per cent tax increase all right. But it doesn’t have to.
The police station can be accommodated with a 2.1 per cent reduction in other spending. Wage increases can only be managed through layoffs. Other proposed items will have to be handled through additional spending reductions.
Many taxpayers live on pensions. If they are indexed at all, these are generally limited to increases in the cost of living. Beyond that, where do councillors think this money is going to come from?
What the municipality really needs from staff is a 10-year plan, based on one per cent annual increases to introduce a sense of realism in budgeting and make up for the giddy and carefree spending of the last 10 years.
Our elected mayor and council are responsible for approving budgets that are affordable. A tax increase of 5.92 per cent is not.