Residents riled by tax hike

Oak Bay council makes correction to budget, giving residents chance to vent over 5.1 per cent tax increase

An error in one document of the budget offered the public an opportunity to vent about the tax increase in Oak Bay this year – and they took it.

The error did not affect the financial plan which reflected the correct rates, noted Mayor Nils Jensen, who also outlined the process of three estimates meetings last month where budget decisions were made.

Council passed the budget earlier this month, citing a game of “catchup” at municipal hall that cost Oak Bay residents 5.1 per cent more in taxes this year. The tax increase translates to about $155 for an average home in Oak Bay (average value $855,000) or $13 a month.

During the committee of the whole meeting May 19 the public attributed the tax increase to the need for more staff to implementing the official community plan that came into effect last year.

“Oak Bay’s new OCP was just reviewed in large part by and for affordable housing,” said Mary Douglas-Hunt. “Taxes are one of the contributing factors that make housing affordable.”

She noted that the strategic plan puts housing below infill development guidelines with associated estimated costs of $80,000 for consultants, and a housing strategy later. Development cost charges, lower in the priorities, should come higher, she added.

“We all concur, everyone is astounded and outraged at this enormous increase,” said Phyllis Campanello.

Visit oakbay.ca to view Oak Bay’s entire four-year strategic plan.