This year, the city is capping its annual property tax hike to the cost of inflation: 6.96 per cent.
City council has asked all of its departments, including the police department, to follow with similar, smaller increases to budgets, according to Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto.
“We took the very difficult decision to hold the line at inflation because people understand that. and our council clearly believes that that is not an unreasonable ask of the police department as well,” Alto said.
But the Victoria Police Board is not following the city’s lead.
It’s going ahead with a planned 9.55 per cent hike and it’s sent a letter to council.
The board wrote, “that the budget it’s presented is one that meets the legislative requirements under the Police Act to provide adequate policing to the City, and Township of Esquimalt,” adding that the board is not prepared to amend the budget as requested by Council.
“I hope that they had a good rationale for doing that. I think that rationale has to be situated in the context of residents’ ability to pay. And the service provision included in the budget,” Alto said.
The 2023 police budget is close to $70 million.
A 9.55 per cent increase is about $6 million, far above any other city department.
But Victoria Police Board co-chair Barb Desjardins said its provided the best possible budget that it can.
“The board does its own deliberations to come forward with a budget that they feel meets the requirements for safe and proper policing for the two communities,” Desjardins said.