This past week the CRD board reviewed the preliminary budget for 2019. There has been considerable concern over the 15% proposed increase to Esquimalt. In 2016 the CRD preliminary budget showed Esquimalt as having a 17% increase coming, the final tax requisition was for 3%. I will try to outline why these numbers can change so significantly.
The CRD has a five year financial planning process which allows the board to see budget projected expenses and revenues going forward based on service plans developed from the Boards Strategic priorities. A few things make this process different this year.
All of these differences suggest the final budget could be significantly changed from this past week.
Esquimalt also has a challenge to receive accurate preliminary budget projections because of our unique taxation make-up with a significant portion in the form of PILT (Payment in lieu of Taxes).
The process of assessment of Federal properties occurs between the federal government and BC assessment. Esquimalt receives a significant payment of these taxes in July and final payment of these amounts normally in November of the year but this has been as late as January of the next year. The importance of this comes down to the fact that preliminary budgets for Esquimalt are done very conservatively because we just don’t get the information early enough to do more accurate budget forecasting. This is why Esquimalt waits until March of the budget year to do its budgeting.
Enough on process with regards to accuracy of the CRD preliminary budget let’s talk about comparisons between municipalities which cannot really be done.
As you look at the budget of each municipality you will note each is unique in its list of services that CRD provide. Someone asked for an apple to apples comparison of taxes with other municipalities. My response to them was that it can’t be done because every municipality is a different fruit.
Some municipalities have taken various services out of CRD requisition and bill them to their residents under a utility. In this way that cost is not seen within the CRD budget. For example in the CRD requisition for Victoria you will not see the sewer program.
In Esquimalt we do not have any utilities because of the tax structure and the PILT. What you see on your bill is the culmination of all the taxes. If you are someone who defers taxes you are able to defer significant cost in taxation. People in other municipalities cannot defer items within utilities. Small comfort I know.