Sidney keeping its annual tax hike low again

At 0.66% the Town’s 2017 rate is the lowest on the Peninsula - so far.

Homeowners in Sidney can expect to pay, on average, $9 more per year on their tax bill for 2017.

Sidney town council Tuesday night approved a residential tax rate increase of 0.66 per cent — much lower than the current proposed rate in Central Saanich of 2.96 per cent. North Saanich is not dealing with its 2017 budget until next month.

This is the second year in a row Sidney has kept its annual tax increase under one percent. In 2016, the rate hike was 0.81 per cent — or $11 more on homeowners’ tax bill.

New homes and increased assessed values are helping keep the tax impact down.

Sidney’s financial department had actually started this year’s budget talks looking at a 1.51 per cent tax increase. The combination of increased assessments, new home construction and turning to different sources of money for Town projects, contributed to the reduction in the overall increase.

Mayor Steve Price said Tuesday night the 0.66 per cent “is being kept low by using existing sources of funding” for a variety of expenses, rather than raising taxes. Price added one of the main reasons the tax rate is up again this year, is so the municipality can put money away into its reserve accounts.

Property taxes are expected to generate an additional $212,000 for the municipality this year. Of that, Director of Finance Andrew Hicik noted $71,000 is being raised through the general tax increase. The remaining $140,000 is through the growth of Sidney’s tax base (new construction).

Of that total of more than $212,000, $124,000 is going into the Town’s reserves.

To achieve the low tax rate increase this year, Sidney staff and council decided to use other sources of money to pay for their list of projects, specifically gas tax remittances from the federal government.

In 2017, those projects will cost Sidney an estimated $11.6 million — from street improvements and a new skate park, to an employee parking lot and more.

Sidney’s biggest ticket capital project — their proposed community safety building is expected to cost between $5 to $8 million — will not have an impact on the tax rate until 2018 and 2019. Taxes are forecast to go up 2.93 per cent next year and 2.43 per cent in 2019, as the Town begins paying back its debt incurred for the new structure.

Price noted that continued growth in the tax base will help offset those projected tax increases — as will a large commercial development in town. The mayor said when the Sidney Gateway project comes on stream in 2019, it’s projected to feed an additional $300,000 in commercial tax dollars into Sidney’s coffers.

Once again this year, Hicik said the Town’s water and sewer utility fees are not changing, leaving them the same as three years ago.

 

Added costs mean total tax bill is higher

While the municipal share of the 2017 tax bill in Sidney is relatively low, additional charges will make people’s taxes a bit higher overall.

The Town is the tax collector for the Capital Regional District, Regional Library and Regional Hospital functions, and those alone are expected to add another $14.86 per year to the total Sidney tax bill.

That amount will increase further once School District 63 (Saanich) sets its tax requisition for the year. The school district is set to discuss its 2017 budget on Feb. 28.

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