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Lantzville passes budget with 0% tax increase for second-straight year

Mayor says it’s the only reprieve residents will see on their tax bill
Lantzville District Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)

The District of Lantzville, despite inflationary pressures, has managed to pass a budget with a zero-per cent tax increase for the second year in a row.

District council, at a meeting Feb. 21, approved its 2024-28 financial plan, which includes a 2024 budget that comes in at $3.1 million.

Rose Liu, the district’s director of finance, explained at a Feb. 7 meeting that although the budget is $91,500 higher than in 2023, all of that increase will be covered by non-market change, primarily tax revenue from newly built homes.

She said reserve contributions are at or above prescribed level, and Coun. Ian Savage added that council was able to achieve the zero-per cent budget increase by reducing operating costs, not reserve contributions. Legal expenses and consulting fees were some of the operational budget cuts council made.

The biggest-ticket capital project in the 2024 budget is expansion of the Winds residential area water system at $8.4 million, to be paid for through long-term borrowing and parcel taxes. Other significant water system projects include water main replacements in the Harby Road and Saxon Crossing Road areas.

Also, the district will spend $215,000 on storm drainage related to Dickinson Road work, $201,000 on a multi-use path from Leland Road to Huddlestone Road, $120,000 on safety work at Pierce Woods Marine Park, and $100,000 to replace a Lantzville Fire Rescue duty truck.

While council unanimously supported the budget, Coun. Rachelle Mundell, at the Feb. 7 meeting, said she was doing so reluctantly and felt it was “irresponsible” to pass two zero-per cent budgets in a row.

“That’s not sitting well with me in looking forward at all the projects and work that needs to be done in our community. I have a lot of concerns,” she said. “I want to ease the burden as much as possible on all residents where we can, but at the same time, I see crumbling roads and infrastructure and capital projects that all need significant funding.”

Savage noted that bringing all Lantzville’s roads up to standard would be tens of millions of dollars, not a quick fix in a district with a $3-million total budget.

“We’re showing leadership and I think all municipalities can do this by rolling up their sleeves line by line, going through it. It’s hard work, I’ll tell you, but I think we’re being responsible,” he said.

Coun. Joan Jones agreed, saying that a kilometre of sidewalk, for example, would break the budget and is simply not affordable.

“Residents can expect to see this council having lots of discussions with staff about that, for example, and many other ways that we can grow our community, be proud of our community, and not be spending like we have a bottomless pot of money which we simply don’t have,” she said.

Mayor Mark Swain said he thought something along the lines of a three-per cent tax increase might be more appropriate than zero, because it would mean $100,000 or so to go to roads or similar projects, but suggested that neither Lantzville nor any other municipality has any hope of catching up when it comes to asset management.

He lamented significant tax requisition increases coming from the Regional District of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Regional Hospital District and Vancouver Island Regional Library.

“When residents look at their tax bills this year, this is the only reprieve they’re going to see…” Swain said. “What is terrible about this is because we’re trying to do something and keep things more in line with people’s abilities to pay, our municipality suffers, because everybody else is taking from our residents.”

READ ALSO: District of Lantzville manages to whittle budget down to 0% tax increase

About the Author: Greg Sakaki

I have been in the community newspaper business for two decades, all of those years with Black Press Media.
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