North Cowichan.

Yearly tax hikes becoming taxing

It’s time to hold the bottom line once current commitments are met

North Cowichan’s current council reduced the tax increase for 2022 to 2.89 per cent and thinks it’s done the public a great service. It hasn’t.

The next council that takes office this fall is going to have an enormous job preventing future tax increases from going through the roof during the next five years.

The projections are already calling for an increase in the order of 9.26 per cent for 2023, mainly on some ill-advised decisions.

Finance director Talitha Soldera has said the increase for 2023 is higher since it includes the reinstatement of some reductions council made to keep the 2022 increase as low as possible, such as the capital contribution for parks, so we just delayed the inevitable. Then there’s the full impact of the debt servicing related to the new RCMP building and upgrades to the Crofton fire hall.

It’s all going to add up to a heap of trouble for taxpayers trying to pay their bills. Fuel prices, grocery costs and housing are obviously already skyrocketing out of control.

There’s only so much people can shell out without going into the hole before even receiving a paycheque and never mind how those on fixed incomes are going to cope.

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP definitely needed a new building but, in hindsight, one without so many bells and whistles would have sufficed in this day and age. That hefty price tag for taxpayers is going to be felt not just next year, but down the road while other costs are mounting.

The bottom line is North Cowichan finally has to find a way, outside of the current commitments, to reduce yearly tax increases to zero for the foreseeable future. No more free spending, no more creating new and expensive job postings, attrition for jobs where employees are retiring and a cut in some services if needed to accomplish that goal.

Setting this year’s tax hike artificially lower while already knowing next year’s will be much higher makes no sense whatsoever. Who knows what costs will be like in other sectors of the economy by then and how difficult it’s going to be to make ends meet.

It’s a case of passing the buck, so to speak, to the next council and overloading taxpayers later in difficult times.

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