Council Gives Third Reading to Five-Year Financial Plan: Budget Open House Scheduled for December 1, 3 to 7pm

Thursday, November 25, 2021 – After receiving input from the community, the District has prepared its 2022-2026 five-year financial plan. The plan identifies an increase of approximately $100 per year based on the average residential property assessment, or $8.33 per month.

Listening to the community, we heard about the need to improve local road infrastructure and continue with the implementation of the Transportation Master Plan, proceed with implementation of the Parks and Trails Master Plan and implement adaptation and mitigation strategies to respond to the climate emergency.

Quotes:

Director of Finance, Raechel Gray –

“We are building a sustainable, long-term financial plan for the District by maximizing cost-savings opportunities as the Ministry of Highway project mobilizes in Sooke. Investing now in critical projects that, if delayed, will cost more than double in the years to come is a difficult recommendation, especially given the pandemic and provincial state of emergency. With this plan, we are also investing in an Employment Lands Strategy which is foundational work to diversity our tax base, so that we are not as dependent on residential taxes in the future as we are today.”

Mayor of Sooke, Maja Tait -

“This is an incredibly difficult budget. Unfortunately, leaving our infrastructure and applying patchwork solutions to try and manage at later is not the right answer, especially given the cost-savings opportunities we have before us. We are listening to the feedback received from citizens who shared that road maintenance, the Transportation and Parks and Trails Master Plans, and the climate emergency are priorities. Investing through an increase of approximately $8.33 per month can deliver on several of the community's urgent asks. On December 1st at the Open House, I look forward to hearing more from the community.”

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Norm McInnis –

“The two things we heard most often through our Official Community Plan and also stood out during our 2022 Budget engagement were traffic and climate action. This budget reflects a measured response to both of these matters that will take more than one budget cycle to improve. We are grateful for the level of feedback we are receiving from the public and are committed to responding appropriately.

Our team has worked hard to secure grants, over $12 million in funding over the last two years, to lessen the impact on the residential tax base to see projects identified in the master plans through to fruition. We will continue to seek grants, but we need to keep in mind that grants are never a guarantee. It’s important that have a plan in place to fund these projects whether or not we are successful with our (grant) applications.”

The community is invited to continue the budget conversation at Budget Open House at the municipal hall on Wednesday, December 1st from 3 to 7pm. For those unable to make the in-person open house, an information video will be able on Friday, November 26th. Residents can ask questions online at letstalk.sooke.ca/budget or call 250.642.1634.

2022 Highlights in the five-year financial plan:

  • 2022 Non-Property Tax Revenue Increases:
    1. Development Cost Charges, $200K
    2. Building permits, $150K
    3. Investment Income, $34K
  • Infrastructure Projects:
    1. Church Road Roundabout, $276K funded by property taxes (Transportation Master Plan implementation)
    2. Road paving program, including Connie and Manzer Road, up to $700K (reserve funds) (Transportation Master Plan implementation)
    3. Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion ($4.6 million in grant funding)
    4. Multiple Road Design Projects (e.g. Throup, Charters, Phillips, West Coast Road)
    5. Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, $50K plus BC Hydro partnership
  • Parks & Trails Master Plan Implementation:
    1. Whiffin Spit Master Plan, $75K
    2. Completion of multi-use sports box, $375K
    3. Park and greenspace expansion through developer contributions, additional Parks Auxillary Workers
  • Staffing – 3 new positions funded from non-market change (not property taxes), $270K:
    1. Manager of Engineering
    2. Firefighter
    3. Increase budget for Parks auxiliary workers
  • Outside agencies:
    1. Visitor Centre, $5.4K (COVID restart funding)
    2. SD62 Healthy Schools, $5K
    3. Sooke Family Resource, $30K (note: funded with COVID for 2022 & 2023 – and may be a property tax increase in 2024 if supported by Council to extend the contract at that time)

Departmental/Service Area Property Tax Changes:

  • Council:
    1. Reduction in travel, $5K savings
    2. Reduction in contingency, $20K savings
    3. Reduction in Sooke Canada Day funding, $10K savings
    4. Increase in funding for community support and Service Agreements, $10K
  • Administrative Services (CAO):
    1. Climate Action, $109K
    2. Reduction of legal, $18K
  • Corporate Services:
    1. Election, $27.5K
    2. VoterView Software, $11K (COVID restart funding)
  • Finance/IT
    1. Insurance, $35K
  • Planning
    1. Reduction with completion of OCP review and contractor fees, $145K
  • Operations
    1. Roads maintenance increase, $35K
    2. Asset Management Grant Contribution, $15K
    3. Reduction of contractor fees, $35K
  • Fire
    1. Paid-on Call, $72K
    2. CREST, $16K
    3. Reduction in relief worker remuneration, $16K

What’s next with Budget 2022:

  • Digital Information Session highlighting projects in the 2022 Budget will be available through the District’s website and YouTube channel on November 26, 2021.
  • In-person Open House is scheduled for December 1, 2021, 3 to 7 pm in the council chamber at the municipal hall.
  • Adoption of the five-year financial plan is tentatively scheduled for December 13, 2021.

What other key milestones take place after the budget is approved?

  • BC Assessment Notices will be available in early 2022
  • The District receives third-party (e.g. Schools, Capital Regional District, Hospitals) tax information Spring 2022
  • Tax Rate Bylaw will be brought forward in May 2022
  • Property tax notices will be mailed June 2022
  • Property tax payment period closes on July 4, 2022
  • Budget 2023 preparations begin June-July 2022

Why participate in the Budget Open Houses:

  • Meet service area staff who are committed to working with the community and delivering in its mission as a compassionate, engaged and effective organization providing excellent public services to its citizens.
  • Learn about District operations and processes.
  • Understand how your tax dollars are being maximized.
  • Learn what projects are currently captured in the five-year financial plan.
  • Help shape Budget 2022 by providing input on the identified priority areas.

Did you know:

  • The District collects taxes on behalf of third-party agencies such as Schools, the Capital Regional District and Hospitals. Most taxes collected, 56%, are collected on behalf of these agencies. The remaining portion, 44%, funds District services. The budget conversation underway right now is specific to District services.
  • The District publishes regional property tax information on the property tax page of its website so residents can see how their property tax charges compare to other municipalities in the region.

The District is committed to an Open Budget Process and invites residents to ask questions on Budget 2022 at letstalk.sooke.ca/budget or by calling 250.642.1634.

Learn more:

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