Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sooke residents could see more than 13% in property tax hikes according to financial plan


Sooke just released its latest draft financial plans for the next five years which could see property taxes increase 13.31% this year. 

The rationale behind the tax hike is that the District says they have managed to keep their residential taxes low for years, even through a difficult time in which they wrestled with the high rate of inflation.

Through that time, the District of Sooke increased their municipal staff from 29 employees to around 60, according to their financial plan. 

These additions have allowed Sooke to hire one more bylaw officer for the community’s police force, three more full-time parks department workers, establish round-the-clock fire rescue services as well as enhanced communications and community economic development initiatives. 

“With this history, the difficult reality is that Sooke has fallen behind and [is] struggling to keep up with demands,” reads the financial plan. 

The District says the results of a 2024 Budget Survey reminded them that they need additional resources to provide the services required to address the community’s concerns. 

For context, the Five Year Financial Plan included that of the surrounding municipalities up-island and throughout Greater Victoria, they pay the second lowest in residential property taxes with an average of homeowners paying $1,594 per year. 

The average for all municipalities considered is $2,381, according to the District of Sooke. 

The District shows in their financial plan that the current predicted property tax increase of 13.31% will yield them an additional $1,451,724 this year to help cover the additional costs Sooke has taken on. 

This will equate to $15.43 per month or $185.16 per year, according to the District. 

Specifically, the plan says the high increase this year will cover an investment in community safety by enhancing resources for RCMP, bylaw and fire services, a 2% ($218,154) increase for for replacement and maintenance of aging infrastructure and an increase to account for inflationary, contractual and wage rate increases.

Every year Sooke has to approve their Five Year Financial Plan by May 15th, at which point the Property Tax Bylaw is amended and going forward, residents are beholden to that new rate increase. 

According to the draft plan, following this year’s proposed 13.31% increase, the District would see property taxes raised an additional 8.79% in 2025, 6.13% in 2026, 5.83% in 2027 and 5.64% in 2028. 

Read the full Five Year Financial Plan online to learn more about the District’s plan.

Curtis Blandy

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