Friday, November 5, 2021 – At the November 1st, 2021 council meeting, council received a fulsome list of community asks for the 2022 budget. The requests were received through our community budget consultation and identified in the Transportation and Parks and Trails Master Plans, adopted in October 2020. WATCH/LISTEN TO THE RECORDING HERE >>
The initial list would require approximately $1.6 million in additional funding, which the District is not able to support.
“Our current tax base is predominantly residential, so $92,000 in spending is a 1% tax increase,” shares Raechel Gray, Director of Financial Services. “I am beyond thrilled our team has received over $12 million in grant funding over the last two years to make several critical infrastructure projects happen and minimize the direct impact on property taxes. Grants are never a guarantee, so we must have a plan in place to fund these projects whether or not we are successful with our (grant) applications.”
More funding is needed to meet our community’s needs and diversifying revenue sources is a critical means for the District to operate. In the 2022 budget, the District is looking to develop an Employment Lands Strategy and by adjusting staffing resources, merging Building, Planning and Community Economic Development portfolios, we are identifying a clear path forward to bring more well-paying jobs to Sooke. “We know well-paying local jobs will yield significant community benefits for roads and traffic, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and affordability,” shares Matthew Pawlow, Director of Planning and Development. “It is a priority and we need to work with developers and businesses to make this happen to support our community vision,” Pawlow adds.
The District is also in a unique position with the Highway 14 Construction Project. “We have an opportunity to acquire materials from Highway 14 that would see over $1 million in cost-savings towards projects identified in the Transportation Master Plan,” says Jeff Carter, Director of Operations shares.
This is a particularly challenging budget year. The District is mindful of the financial challenges of the pandemic and knowing there are these cost-saving opportunities means there are incredibly difficult decisions to make.
Budget discussions will continue at the November 15, 2021 Special Council Meeting. The meeting will start at 6 pm and is open to the public. Those attending in person must wear masks. The meeting will also be live-streamed on our YouTube Channel.
What’s next with Budget 2022:
- Special Council Meeting, November 15, 2021 at 6 pm.
- Digital Information Session highlighting projects in the 2022 Budget will be available through the District’s website and YouTube channel, tentatively scheduled for November 26, 2021.
- In-person Open House, tentatively scheduled for December 1, 2021 in the council chamber at the municipal hall.
What other key milestones take place after the budget is approved?
- BC Assessment Notices will be available in early 2022
- The District receives third-party (e.g. Schools, Capital Regional District, Hospitals) tax information Spring 2022
- Tax Rate Bylaw will be brought forward in May 2022
- Property tax notices will be mailed June 2022
- Property tax payment period closes on July 4, 2022
- Budget 2023 preparations begin June-July 2022
Why participate in the Budget Open Houses:
- Meet service area staff who are committed to working with the community and delivering in its mission as a compassionate, engaged and effective organization providing excellent public services to its citizens.
- Learn about District operations and processes.
- Understand how your tax dollars are being maximized.
- Learn what projects are currently captured in the five-year financial plan.
- Help shape Budget 2022 by providing input on the identified priority areas.
Did you know:
- The District collects taxes on behalf of third-party agencies such as Schools, the Capital Regional District and Hospitals. Most taxes collected, 56%, are collected on behalf of these agencies. The remaining portion, 44%, funds District services. The budget conversation underway right now is specific to District services.
- The District publishes regional property tax information on the property tax page of its website so residents can see how their property tax charges compare to other municipalities in the region.
The District is committed to an Open Budget Process and invites residents to ask questions on Budget 2022 through letstalk.sooke.ca/budget or by calling 250.642.1634.
- Budget and Financial Services Information Page
- Budget Update, October 28, 2021
- What We Heard – Budget Engagement 2022