Lamb challenges staff and council to lower tax increase

Sechelt council has given three readings to the financial plan and tax rates bylaws for 2019 and, despite voting in favour, Coun. Tom Lamb is still calling for a reduction in the tax increase before final adoption.

As it stands, the budget calls for a 5.45 per cent increase in taxation to cover the operating budget and a three per cent increase for capital reserves, which is expected to add about $122 to the municipal portion of the tax bill for an average single-family home.

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At an April 3 committee meeting, Lamb said he was struggling with the increase.

“It’s not about this budget, it’s about the future budgets as we move along. I just see that if we don’t start getting a hold of the budget, you can see double-digit [tax increase] budgets become the norm,” Lamb said. “I think that we have to have a really serious look at how we move forward with this budget.”

When the discussion moved to full council on April 17, he made similar comments.

“I’m not overly happy with having the kind of increase that we’re going for here, right now,” Lamb said. “I challenge this council and our staff… My goal for the coming year is a three per cent tax increase, so I’m throwing out the gauntlet right now.”

Lamb didn’t offer any ideas on how to get to that three per cent level, but acknowledged that reductions might mean “taking away from the amenities that the people of this community have come to appreciate.”

The first three readings of the bylaws passed unanimously with little other comment from council. The budget will come back to council for adoption in early May.

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