Residents of Campbell River will see a 2.9 per cent increase in their municipal taxes next year after city council settled on its 2020 financial plan this week.
After three days of deliberations on everything from general operating costs to infrastructure improvements to new service levels, the city’s 2020-2029 financial plan is complete.
Mayor Andy Adams says the process went well, and he’s glad they were able to keep the tax rate increase so low. It actually began the week at 3.16 per cent – or approximately $62 per household – based on the preliminary budget going into the discussions.
“It’s always a tough job to take all of the wishes and desires from all the different organizations of the community and the priorities that each member of council brings to the discussion,” Adams says. “Where we ended up, at the 2.9 per cent, is consistent with where I said in my opening remarks that we needed to maintain our place in the median of comparable communities. It’s taken us 10 years to get there from being on the high end compared to like-sized communities and this 2.9 will keep us there.”
Adams says he keeps an eye on other communities’ tax rate increases and expects Campbell River’s will be well below many others on the Island next year.
“The preliminary projections for the City of Victoria are 3.4, and Cumberland is looking at around four per cent, not including property frontage improvements, so I think we’re in a good place,” Adams says.
One of the highlights for Adams in this year’s budget is the addition of two firefighters for the No. 2 Fire Hall in Willow Point and increasing the number of hours of forensic video services available at the RCMP detachment from 21 to 35 per week to help them process CCTV, dashcam, cell phone and other video footage.
“We need to get that second hall staffed 24/7 by the time we get the new hall built,” Adams says, “and when we had a presentation by Insp. Preston on the challenges that the RCMP detachment is having, particularly with assimilating all of the electronic data that they have, it’s good to be getting them the additional technical expertise.”
Adams also says this year’s budget was particularly challenging because the proposed financial plan was being altered right up until the last minute, meaning they had very little time to look over the final version before they had to start discussing it on Monday morning.
“There were a lot of twists and turns in the two weeks leading up to it,” he says. “There was a lot of new information being presented and it needed to be revised and updated, but was a result of the diligence of council in going through the document and asking really good questions.”
The final financial plan will be presented to council at a special meeting of City Council on Dec. 11 so it can be adopted on Dec. 16.