The City of Langford is looking at one of its biggest tax hikes in three decades, with a draft budget currently proposing a nearly 12 per cent increase.
“We do not take this lightly, we know that this is a significant increase in the budget,” said Lillian Szpak, a Langford councillor who was Acting Mayor Tuesday.
“However, this is the responsible thing to do and will stand us in good stead in the future.”
According to the city, the major budget items behind Langford’s 2023 tax hike are funding an additional four RCMP officers, nine firefighters, six-point-five city staff, and $950,000 in YMCA operating costs.
Szpak says the tax hike is a result of inflation, but is mainly due to Langford’s growth over the past decade.
Also behind the raised rates is also a change in how the city handles its money.
“We’re not going into our reserve funds to plump up our budget,” said Szpak.
“In the past, Langford did use amenity reserve funds to supplement the budget and keep taxes low. We thought that was good practice, especially during COVID, because COVID was hard on folks. But it’s not really good practice for cities. It’s not sustainable. You can’t keep drawing on reserve funds. You wouldn’t do it in your own household unless it was for emergencies.”
CHEK News reached previous long-time mayor Stew Young by phone, who defended his government’s fiscal policy.
“It’s a huge mistake. What they’ve done is shift the burden of taxes from developers and investors to the people, and it’s wrong,” said Young.
Young said the new mayor and council, on the other hand, are betting it’s right.
“Going forward, we are going to end that practice,” said Szpak, referring to drawing from revenue streams to offset tax increases.
Langford’s mayor and council are instead looking to the long term, setting the money in the amenity reserve funds aside for future infrastructure updates the city may need.
The public will be able to give their say on the proposed budget this week and next. Council will then begin budget deliberations, working to a deadline of May 15.