Taxpayers deserve better explanation for increase

Just because a budget has been passed does not mean that council cannot direct staff and programs to exercise restraint

It is absolutely galling to be told by our council that we will have an average 5.1 per cent increase in municipal taxes.

Moreover, Coun. Tara  Ney’s response (Letter to Editor May 22) is simply inadequate. A quick calculation tells us the higher tax rates will raise (roughly $155 X 6,000 homes) an additional $930,000 – year after year. Business taxes will raise yet even more funds.  Surely the new planner and HR manager salaries will not cost us that much?  We are left to ponder what programs council considered to be cut but were not? If not, why not? We are also left to ponder exactly what are the “staff-recommended increases for operations and infrastructure”.  Tell us. It’s council’s responsibility to hold the tax line – staff only recommend.

Statistics Canada pegs Victoria’s CPI at one per cent; Oak Bay’s auditors report that previously, taxes have increased at an average of 3.8 per cent;  and now in 2015 we have an average 5.1 per cent increase.

Who has received a five per cent income increase that can offset tax rises. At this rate our taxes will double within 15 years.

Taxpayers deserve more than a letter to the editor.  Nothing short of a full, complete and easily understood explanation should be prominent on the municipal website – after all we are paying for “technological support to build and maintain a web page and use social media to engage and communicate with citizens more openly and efficiently” [ref Coun. Ney’s letter]. Remember, this does not include Oak Bay’s sewer and water levies.

Just because a budget has been passed does not mean that council cannot direct staff and programs to exercise restraint. They should.

Rick Lee

Oak Bay