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Four things hike CVRD budget by $700K in 2014

logoCowichanCitizenAndrea Rondeau / Cowichan Valley Citizen 
March 28, 2014 12:00 AM

Taxes: Three areas down, most see increase

There are four main reasons most areas in the Cowichan Valley Regional District are seeing tax increases this year, while a few areas are seeing reductions, the public heard Wednesday night as the CVRD board passed their annual budget at a special board meeting.

The overall increase in requisition is $708,452, but not all areas will share equally in the added tax burden.

The City of Duncan's requisition will decrease by $2.82 on the average residential property, while the Town of Lake Cowichan's will go down $5.13 and Area D (Cowichan Bay)'s will go down $5.95.

Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) is going up the most, at $48.90 on the average residential property, while Area A (Mill Bay/Malahat) is only going up $2.92.

The other areas fall in between with the District of North Cowichan's northern portion going up by $3.67, North Cowichan's southern portion by $6.47, the Town of Ladysmith by $46.74, Area B (Shawnigan Lake) by $19.98, Area C (Cobble Hill) by $14.31, Area E (Sahtlam/Glenora/Cowichan Station) by $3.62, Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls) by $33.71, Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands) by $6.30, and Area H (North Oyster/Diamond) by $18.68.

A report by Mark Kueber, general manager of the CVRD's Corporate Services Department, explains that between them the Vancouver Island Regional Library system, transit, the solid waste management complex, and Emergency 9-1-1 account for 90 per cent of the increases.

The Regional Library only impacts electoral areas, and the solid waste management complex and Emergency 9-1-1 are regionally funded. Transit affects the transit partners.

Participation in the library system is increasing by $91,810. The transit increase comes in at $263,095 and is due to service expansion to the Town of Ladysmith and more Handy Dart service.

The solid waste management complex has seen a decrease in revenue, the report states, due to success in waste diversion programs, increasing debt and disposal costs. Uncertainty in the U.S.-Canadian exchange rate has also created pressure, resulting in a $175,000 increase. The Emergency 9-1-1 increase of $100,000 is for capital equipment.

While the budget passed handily in the weighted vote, it was not unanimous.

Area E Director Loren Duncan said funding for transit and the Island Savings Centre were sticking points for him, while Area F Director Ian Morrison said he couldn't approve the budget due to problems he had with the budget process. The board, he contended, didn't go through the massive budget document in enough detail.

"You are the process," reminded acting Chief Administrative Officer Frank Raimondo.

Cobble Hill Director Gerry Giles also responded to Morrison, saying the time to address discomfort with the process was when it began in September and October, not at the final budget session.

North Oyster/Diamond Director Mary Marcotte was the third director to vote against the budget, stating that her objection was the issue of giving grants-in-aid funding to some organizations not as a onetime hand-out, but on an ongoing basis.

Saltair Director Mel Dorey said the time for these kinds of objections had come and gone, and directors had already lost these arguments at other levels of the process.

"It's not fair to hijack the budget because you disagree with one or two things," said Dorey.

Mill Bay Director Mike Walker agreed. "I hate to say it, but suck it up," he concluded.

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