Another city budget, another tax increase. Were you expecting anything else?
You shouldn’t have when you consider the city is still adjusting to the loss of the Elk Falls pulp mill cash cow. But the adjustment is being made and the tax burden is being shifted onto the homeowners of the city.
At a 2.92 per cent increase this year, it’s not a big pill to swallow but it is trending downwards, in the sense that the increase in taxes is not as much as in past years. And there is no increase for the business class and the parks parcel tax will hold at $25.
But it’s still an increase for homeowners and Mayor Walter Jakeway has pointed out that the full impact of the city’s new budget is hidden in the amount council has dipped into reserves.
Jakeway has rightly pointed out that it’s not a balanced budget, council is still overspending but is able to do so because it has dipped into the piggy bank to the tune of over $14 million.
“The low percentage increase gives the impression that city spending is restrained and is finally under control,” Jakeway said last week.
Some of the accumulated reserve funds came from gaming and gas taxes, but most of it came from past city taxes, he pointed out. The trouble with reserves is that if you don’t replenish them, they eventually run out.
Tax increases have been a contentious point in the community but they are trending in the right direction. The mayor, however, is right to send a warning shot across the fiscal bow in case anybody is thinking it’s all wine and roses once again in Campbell River.
There is still work to do and while we can mask the shortcomings by using reserves, it can’t continue indefinitely.