Watchdog group accuses Saanich of exaggerating effects of new health tax

A local watchdog group questions Saanich’s messaging around the effects of the employer health tax.

Grumpy Taxpayer$ said in a release that the group “agrees and sympathizes” with findings from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). They show local governments including Saanich will feel a “significant” impact on their municipal finances as the new tax leaves Saanich with a menu of politically unappetizing choices.

“We question a tax policy that results in the funding of a provincial service (healthcare) through property taxation,” said board member Bruce Kennedy.“That said, we strongly disagree with the CAO and his alarmist message. There’s no need to cut off a limb, but simply a willingness to go on a diet.”

The provincial government plans to eliminate Medical Services Plan (MSP) premiums paid by each British Columbian (unless exempt) and replace them with the EHT paid by employers with 2019 as a transition year during which the provincial government will collect both MSPs and the EHT.

Saanich, according to the report, will pay $1.78 million to cover the new EHT plus $209,000 for employee MSP premiums with Saanich planning to split the additional cost between property taxes and user fees.

Comments from chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson suggests Saanich would find it difficult to absorb the increase without raising taxes.

“Saanich cannot manage a property tax increase [of 1.3 per cent] from this additional expense through simple ‘belt tightening,’” he said. “We would have to amputate a limb.”

Grumpy Taxpayer$, however, questions this language.

Kennedy said Saanich could be more selective in funding capital projects. “Saanich fails to consider slowing the pace of the new ‘nice to do’ capital projects, such as the $5 million next year and $8 million the following year budgeted for the Complete Streets initiative,” he said. “Just pushing that to three years could cover this issue with room to spare.”

Capital projects need a proper business plan and need to be prioritized, so we do what we can afford, he said.

“There’s also a million dollar strategic initiative fund — which even some councilors have termed a slush fund — with money outside the normal budgetary process that escapes scrutiny,” he said.

Just Posted

Central Saanich will allow police officers to use pot

Marijuana use by officers not allowed 24 hours before duty

Meet Your Candidates: Sidney candidates talk about the issues

Meet your local candidates running for council

West Shore RCMP tape off Langford law office sent suspicious substance last month

No confirmation as to why police were back at Hemminger Law Group Monday afternoon

BC SPCA sees successful weekend from adoption sales

On Saturday animal shelters across the province reduced their adoption fees

Coastal rowing a big success in Sidney

World Rowing Coastal Championship organizers celebrate end of North American debut

Campers near Saanich municipal hall await response from transportation ministry

MOTI expected to decide Monday when campers need to leave

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read