Central Saanich released their 2018 annual report detailing changes to the District’s financial position. (Peninsula News Review File)

Central Saanich annual report details $5.7 million improvement

Butchart Gardens the District’s largest taxpayer, shelling out $499,104 for 2018

The District of Central Saanich released its annual report last week, and the numbers illustrate much of the municipality’s work over the past year.

“The District’s overall financial position improved by $5.7 million in 2018,” wrote Paul Murray, director of financial services, “Of particular note, water and sewer operations had surpluses greater than budgeted, primarily due to higher than anticipated consumption.”

Cash reserves increased by $4.7 million, to a total of $18.8 million, and total surplus and reserves hit $26.9 million.

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Accumulated surplus of financial and non-financial assets (buildings, vehicles etc.) totalled over $106 million.

Municipalities are required to run a balanced budget, although they can go into debt for capital projects. Net capital debt was $9.38 million by year’s end.

Municipal property taxes brought in the bulk of revenue at $16.2 million, with Butchart Gardens the principal business contributor, paying $499,104 in tax.

The report outlines district demographics, showing Central Saanich having a population of 16,814, with an additional 2,527 Tsartlip and Tsawout community members. The median age of residents is 49.1 and the average household income totals $86,622.

Bylaw enforcement activity remained steady in 2018 with 210 files and 348 site inspections. Voluntary compliance was achieved in 171 cases. Parking bylaw contraventions jumped from a median average of 65 for the last six years to 98. Similarly, noise complaints also rose, with a predicted five being dwarfed by the actual 24 the District tackled.

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Central Saanich flexed its green credentials in the report, citing the adoption of the Central Saanich Energy Plan and the Central Saanich Climate Leadership Plan. The District also focused on e-car and e-bike provision and infrastructure. However, according to the report, their lofty goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent will take 31 years to realize. This year they plan to hire a climate action specialist and provide climate action community engagement education.

The District implemented a new brand, joined Twitter and improved their social media reach. Their technology-related efforts were really on point, being one of the few clusters in the report to meet all their percentage goals.

In the law and order section, property crimes were down from 228 to 163, but traffic offences jumped from a predicted 479 to 932. Across the emergency services aisle, the fire department responded to 124 serious callouts.

There were 1,588 building inspections but planning application processing time goals were consistently missed last year. A variety of planning and development applications were predicted to be answered 90 to 100 per cent on time, but fell short, with 29 per cent, 38 per cent and 50 per cent being secured on time.

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The District enjoyed a number of successes, such as reconstructing 33,000 square metres of road surface area, cleaning 2,300 metres more of the sewer system than expected, replacing several major water lines and reconstructing the Brentwood Bay and James Island Road docks.

They also nailed tax collection rates, with a multi-year high of 99.2 per cent.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

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