Sunday, July 21, 2024

Victoria could see a 9% property tax increase to combat inflation


Inflation has affected Victorians in almost every aspect of their lives.

Food prices have been skyrocketing along with housing costs, including rent and utilities. The City of Victoria is no exception to the effects of inflation in Canada. 

Victoria’s city council met on Friday, January 20th to begin discussions about the 2023-2027 Draft Financial Budget, beginning with talks about 2023 specifically.

As Mayor Marianne Alto guides her relatively inexperienced council through the process of putting together the City of Victoria’s Strategic Plan, she is working with city staff to get the Draft Financial Plan put together as well.

“We will specifically today be talking about the first year of that and the impact of that for the  coming years,” said Mayor Alto.

“We’re doing it in this manner for the first time in a while to have it run parallel with our strategic planning process.”

“In my mind, strategic planning cannot go forward without a clear understanding  of our residents’ ability to pay and the City’s ability to provide those services and at what cost.”

In the first Draft Financial Plan that city council discussed, there were a few notable items in their proposed revenues and expenditures. 

Most notably, there is a proposed property tax increase of 8.99% on the city’s expenditures list.

This is because inflation for the City of Victoria is expected to be between 7 and 8%. In the 2019-2022 budget, council decided that property taxes could only be increased by a margin of what inflation is expected to be, plus 1%. 

“Inflation in Victoria has varied significantly during 2022, with a high of 8.24%” said City Manager Jocelyn Jenkyns. “At the time of estimating this budget, it was estimated to end up between 7 and 8%.”

Victoria ended up at just below 7% for 2022 after a Consumer Price Index (CPI) report was published. 

Almost all branches of government have a proposed budget increase and inflation costs. 

VicPD has an increased budget of 8.84% to just over $70 million dollars, in part due to increased salaries and hiring seven additional officers. 

People and Culture was listed as the highest budgetary increase of 38.22%. In 2022, the City allotted just over $3 million and the 2023 draft budget proposes over $4.2 million. 

This sector handles programming and implementation of practices to ensure safe, healthy and respectful work environments are created within many sectors of the City’s operations. 

The City of Victoria provides over 200 services to the people of Victoria, so as Mayor Alto and her council continue to discuss the Draft Financial Plan and develop their Strategic Plan, they say that they will identify priorities and areas in which they can potentially scale back proposed budgets in order to reduce the proposed property tax hike.

Curtis Blandy

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