Council Invites Public Feedback on Budget
City of Duncan taxpayers are invited to come out, get informed, and provide feedback on all aspects of the City’s Six Year Financial Plan at an Open House at 200 Craig Street on Monday, March 27, 2017, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. Or, visit PlaceSpeak to have your say!
The 2016 Census results, released in February 2017, confirm that the population of the City of Duncan is 4,944. This is good news for Duncan taxpayers when it comes to paying for policing. As the population is less than 5,000, the City continues to be below the threshold set by the provincial government for becoming directly responsible for providing policing services, which would trigger a significant increase in the amount the City of Duncan must pay for policing.
“So far the population has stayed below the provincial threshold and the City has been able to use the funding that would have been earmarked for additional policing expenses to undertake much needed capital projects,” said Mayor Phil Kent. “City Council has considered a number of options for fiscal planning and believes that maintaining a Police Bridging Capital Fund continues to be the most prudent financial strategy going forward, this ensures the needed capital infrastructure is maintained or improved before increased police operating costs limit our opportunities.”
According to Talitha Soldera, Director of Finance, “after debating various options during the budget process, City Council is considering maintaining tax increases close to the rate of inflation for the next six years, with a steady increase from 2.4% in 2017 to 4.4% in 2022, which will protect taxpayers from a large tax increase if the City’s population rises over the threshold.”
In the meantime, the City once again has the opportunity to use the funds that would otherwise have gone towards the increased cost of policing to pay for capital projects, such as road improvements and boulevard improvements along the Trans-Canada Highway. The proposed Six Year Financial Plan includes spending just over $4 million over six years on capital projects.
- Duncan Census Results: 4,944 in 2016; 4,932 in 2011; 4,986 in 2006; and 4,699 in 2001.
- Municipal policing population threshold:
- Populations under 5,000 – the province pays 70 percent of policing costs, but recovers a portion of the costs from municipalities through a police tax levy. The federal government pays the remaining 30 percent.
- Population 5,000 to 14,999 – the municipality must assume responsibility for police services within their boundaries and pay 70 percent of the cost base described in the policing agreements. The federal government pays the remaining 30 percent.
- Population over 14,999 – the municipality must pay 90 percent of the cost of policing. The federal government pays the remaining 10 percent.
- 2009 – The Province began charging the City directly for police and property tax rates went up between 10 and 12% each year from 2009-2011.
- 2012 (pop. 4,932) – The City reverted back to collecting a police tax levy on behalf of the Province, which provided a unique opportunity to invest more funds in capital projects without a large tax increase or borrowing and debt financing. Projects completed with funding that would have been earmarked for increased policing costs include: ·
- Repayment of Cowichan Aquatic Centre debt
- Dike Infrastructure and Flood mitigation infrastructure
- Lee Street Pump Station
- Rotary Park upgrades
- Canada Avenue Intersection and Infrastructure replacement
- Cedar Avenue Infrastructure replacement
- Fire Hall Seismic Upgrade
- 2017 (pop. 4,944) – Council considered 0% tax increases for the next 3-5 years, but decided against it as drawbacks include less opportunity for completing capital projects and a potential increase of up to 20% if the population increased over 5,000 in 2021.
- City Council, in the 2017-2022 Financial Plan, is considering a steady increase in taxes from 2.4% in 2017 to 4.4% in 2022 and allocating just over $4 million over 6 years for funding capital projects, including:
- Undergrounding of utilities on Canada Avenue/Government Street
- Marchmont Road Infrastructure Improvements
- Pine Avenue Infrastructure Improvements
- Day Road Infrastructure Improvements
- Storm Main upgrades
- Boulevard & Gateway Improvements Along the Trans-Canada Highway