School purchase means big Saltair tax hike

Ladysmith area facing highest percentage increases in CVRD requisition

he final numbers are in for the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s 2015 budget.

The CVRD board made adjustments right up to the last minute before approving the figures last week, which meant that final percentage increases for each area were not immediately available.

The final tally sees the CVRD budget increasing by 5.63 per cent overall, though residents in different areas in the Valley will not share the increased costs equally.

The City of Duncan’s increase is 8.27 per cent, the Municipality of North Cowichan’s is 8.58 per cent, the Town of Ladysmith’s is 10.58 per cent, and the Town of Lake Cowichan, at one per cent, will see the lowest increase of the municipalities.

People in most of the electoral areas will see smaller increases than those falling on the majority of the municipalities. Area G, Saltair/Gulf Islands, is the outlier, and will see a 10 per cent increase in requisition. The boost is due in large part to the recent acquisition of the old Mount Brenton School property.

Area A, Mill Bay/Malahat, will see a 2.46 per cent increase; Area B, Shawnigan Lake, will see a 1.61 per cent increase; Area C, Cobble Hill, will see a 3.09 per cent increase; Area D, Cowichan Bay, will see a 3.01 per cent increase; Area E, Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora, will see a 3.62 per cent increase; Area F, Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls, will see a 2.06 per cent increase; Area H, North Oyster/Diamond, will see a 5.03 per cent increase; and Area I, Youbou/Meade Creek, will see a 1.6 per cent increase.

– See more at: final numbers are in for the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s 2015 budget.

The purchase of the old Mt. Brenton School means Saltair residents will have the most significant jump in rural taxation in the entire Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The CVRD recently passed a budget calling for an overall increase of 5.63 per cent. But the budget affects different areas of the region in different ways depending on what services are provided. The purchase of the school is wholly funded by Area G and means taxpayers in Saltair will be asked for 10 per cent more than last year.

The school and its 2.2-hectare grounds were acquired from private interests in September at a cost of $300,000, with the idea of re-uniting the land with neighbouring Centennial Park and keeping the building active as a community centre.

“Because of the purchase of the school, costs are up drastically,” CVRD manager of corporate services Mark Kueber said.

In dollar terms, the purchase translates to a hike of just under $6 per $100,000 of assessed value in each year of the five-year payment period.

Meanwhile, three specific issues are contributing to the region-wide tax hike.

The first is unexpectedly low revenues and increased costs in processing local garbage that created a deficit in last year’s budget. The dropping Canadian dollar has increased the cost of shipping our trash to the U.S. At the same time, the amount of trash being processed at local transfer stations is down, dropping CVRD revenues with it.

Kueber said those trends are expected to continue this year.

The second issue is a legal battle launched by the CVRD in an attempt to halt the creation of a toxic soil treatment site near Shawnigan Lake. It cost $400,000 and all CVRD partners are sharing in the bill.

The final big ticket item is paying for changes in transit service.

Town of Ladysmith residents to not pay into many CVRD functions, but they are partners in all three big-ticket items detailed above. That means a large percentage increase  — 10.58 — in their CVRD contribution, which translates into a $23.66 increase for a $300,000 home.

In terms of percentage increases, the Ladysmith and Saltair hikes are the biggest in the regional district.

North Oyster/Diamond’s (Area H) increase is slightly below the regional average — 5.03 per cent. North Cowichan’s hike is 8.58 per cent.