EDITORIAL: Municipal budgets are what you make them

Municipal budgets are perhaps the most democratic of all the forms of taxation

It’s been said that the only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time politicians meet.

While that glib assessment may evoke some chuckles at the local coffee shop, the truth is discussions about taxes, especially at a municipal level on Vancouver Island, should be far more nuanced.

No one likes taxes. But municipal budgets and their resultant tax rates are perhaps the most democratic of all the forms of taxation we are forced to endure.

By now, Ladysmith council is into the home stretch on formulating its annual budget. In all likelihood, the administration has heard direct feedback from residents as it develops its spending plan.

Make no mistake about it, running a municipality is not an inexpensive enterprise and, on the most part, it’s the residents who directly benefit from a well-crafted financial plan.

Will additional staff members to help to reduce the time needed to turn around building permits and other civic services, provide a direct benefit to the community that outweighs their cost?

What other grants, capital purchases, services, and initiatives — that will contribute to the health of the community — can we afford?

And then there is the question of the business tax rate; in most Island communities, businesses shoulder a higher tax burden compared to homeowners.

READ MORE: Taxing Vancouver Island: which communities are paying the most?

The average resident of Sooke, for example, will pay three times the tax bill on a business than they would for a property of equal value. While rates may vary from community to community, the differential is not unique to Sooke, and not out of line with other Island municipalities.

Lowering that ratio may help business and attract investment, but it would most likely shift more of the tax burden to homeowners or affect the livability of the community do to reduced services.

It’s a very complex issue calling for some equally tough choices.

But, given that most public budget meetings generally draw less than a handful of participants, Shakespeare’s line that “the fault is not in our stars (or councillors)… but in ourselves” comes to mind.

Just Posted

Ladysmith offers absolutely the best running High (Street) available

Annual Ladysmith Hill Dash is open to runners who enjoy going uphill fast

It’s here: tackling opioid addiction in Ladysmith

Nine overdose deaths in two years “pretty alarming considering this is a small town”

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Spending support helps keep Chemainus Rotary auction going strong

Event a labour of love for club members to generate funds for the community

Robert Barron column: Break-ins violate more than your property

My home has been broken into twice in the decade that I have lived there.

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Private cargo ship brings Easter feast to the space station

There are three Americans two Russians and one Canadian living on the space station

Notre Dame rector: “Computer glitch” possible fire culprit

The fire burned through the lattice of oak beams supporting the monument’s vaulted stone ceiling

Most Read