Budget increase dips below 2.8 per cent

Numbers still in draft, must be approved by May 15

Oak Bay’s latest draft budget proposes a tax increase on an average house of 2.76 per cent.

“Council’s worked very hard to bring forward a reasonable and well-balanced budget that maintains the services at a level that people in Oak Bay have come to expect. It’s always difficult to balance the competing interests for the dollar,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

“Compared to what we started with in the provisional budget, this is much more in line with people’s expectations.”

Jensen said he feels the community will wind up perhaps slightly higher than middle of the pack among tax increases across the region.

“There’s a whole range of reasons. Our labour costs have gone up in certain areas. We’ve settled the past contracts with the firefighters as an example. There are other labour load increases and miscellaneous increases right across the budget,” Jensen said.

“With so much change in Oak Bay, the services of a planner are invaluable to decision making, in particular as we begin the implementation of the official community plan. We’re about to embark on an infill strategy report and consultation.”

Council discussed infrastructure, water and sewer lines as well as roadwork nearing the end of its lifespan and in need of updating.

“These are all demands we’re aware of and balancing them is sometimes difficult. But in the end council steered a reasonable, well-balanced course.”

Council’s perusal of the budget last week included grants-in-aid.

Tentative approvals include: Heritage Foundation, $3,000; Vancouver Island Film and Media Commission $10,000; Greater Victoria Bike to Work $2,000; Friends of Uplands Park, $1,500; Oak Bay Sea Rescue $3,000; Oak Bay Music Society $500; Oak Bay Artists (Bowker Creek Brush-Up); town crier honorarium $250; Oak Bay Volunteer Services $5,000; BC Maritime Museum $1,500; and St. John’s Ambulance $1,200.

The draft budget must be approved by council by May 15 and is expected to come before council before then.

“There were a couple of areas – where because there were only six of us it was an even split – it may well be there are a few minor changes when we come to the final budget and there are seven of us voting,” Jensen said.

Coun. Tara Ney missed the Estimates, or budget, meeting.

Council meetings are slated for April 25 and May 9.