Koury proposing 1% tax increase
North Cowichan council budget debate Wednesday will revolve around a notice of motion made by Councillor John Koury to cap the budget increase at 1%.
"North Cowichan's priority setting and planning for the future has come at a cost,'' pointed out Koury in a letter to the News Leader Pictorial.
"The new addition to the municipal hall, the expansion and re-organizing of planning and engineering has increased capital and operational costs significantly. These government increases were made during tough economic times.''
Combined with tax shifting since 2009, this has resulted in major property tax increases for North Cowichan homeowners, Koury pointed out.
"I support the sensible measures and systems that have added to the cost of government. The planning we do now in slow times is designed to streamline operations and create attractive investment conditions for increased planned growth. We're getting ready for when good times return.
"Where I depart from administration at this point during the budget review is how the municipality pays for all the things it wants and needs. From what I can see in the proposed budget, administration needs about $700,000 more this year than it needed last year.''
Koury added he's going to ask the chief administrative officer to draft a budget that raises taxes by 1% that would account for $250,000 and then use reserves to cover the rest.
"I will ask council not to shoulder the entire cost of future planning onto today's taxpayer.''
Koury feels North Cowichan can easily take a contribution from surplus without any harm.
"I believe we're also due to get a rundown of those reserve accounts, how much each one has in it, what the money's earmarked for and what the implications would be of raiding those funds to finance our operations,'' pointed out fellow Councillor Al Siebring.
Siebring isn't convinced Koury's proposal is going to fly.
"If council wants to limit tax increases, the only way to do that is to take the hard decisions on which services are essential, which are important and which are nice to have, but not either essential or important.
"That's a debate I've been waiting to have since I got elected in '08, but there never seems to be either the time or the political stomach for it.''