Lantzville council passes first three readings of district’s budget

Councillors nudge down tax increase to 23 per cent, pass three readings of 2020-2024 financial plan

Lantzville residents are a step closer to being hit with a significant tax increase next year.

District of Lantzville councillors voted 4-1 in favour of passing the first three readings of the municipality’s 2020-2024 financial plan during a council meeting on Nov. 18.

Residents were facing the possibility of a 25-per cent property tax increase, but during the meeting, councillors elected to remove a planned $46,000 contribution to their property acquisition reserve fund from the 2020 budget.

Residents will now be hit with a 23 per cent tax increase if the budget is adopted. Based on the average assessed value of a home in Lantzville, a homeowner can expect to pay $1,248 in municipal property taxes in 2020, should the budget be approved, according to district staff.

Sewer rates are also expected to increase from $113 per quarter to $123 while water rates will not increase.

Major spending items in the 2020 budget include $900,000 for Sebastion Road replacement, $400,000 for village core streetscape improvements, $265,000 for improvements to Costin Hall and the Heritage Church, $200,000 for Huddlestone Road piping, $171,000 for improvements to the district’s fire hall, $125,000 for highway signage, $104,600 for snow removal and $93,500 for asset management.

An additional $140,000 has also been allocated to fund two new staffing positions – deputy director of corporate administration and a public works employee – for the district.

RELATED: Lantzville’s potential property tax increase ticks up to almost 25 per cent

Coun. Ian Savage was the one who voted against the three readings and during the meeting he expressed concerns about the staffing increase. He said staff increases should only occur when Lantzville’s population increases.

“This budget sets the template for an avalanche of new staff hiring…” he said. “In business, you don’t hire new staff unless the income warrants it. The same should apply to our local government.”

Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said it is clear that staffing increases are needed at the district, adding that when about 39 per cent of the work required to be carried out by the public works department isn’t being completed, there is a problem.

“That is very concerning and for me, that is just cause for increasing staffing in our public works department…” he said. “There is a lot of catching up we have to do in terms of our staffing.”

Swain said the tax increase is unfortunate but necessary and that council isn’t “out of the woods” yet because there are likely high tax increases to come in years ahead, adding that councillors will need to “hold the line” and stick to those projected tax increases. He also said Lantzville’s roads are in “pretty sad shape” and the district’s asset management reserve is “in the toilet” and commended councillors for moving forward with the budget.

“We have big increases coming. I commend this council for being bold and doing what is right and maybe unpopular, but this is the right step,” Swain said. “We have to do this.”

RELATED: Lantzville’s budget talks starting with potential 22.5-per cent tax hike

Coun. Will Geselbracht said that previous councils didn’t invest as much money into the replacement of the district’s infrastructure and as a result, the residents are paying the price.

“We had old infrastructure to start in 2005 when we inherited it. We haven’t had any new development, we didn’t put any money away in the years 2005 to 2019, where we are now. It’s now provincially mandated that we must,” he said.

Geselbracht said previous chief administrative officers have all suggested that staffing levels need to be increased. He also said although it may sound like a “bad news” budget, it’s actually “bare bones” and necessary.

“Nobody is getting plush new chairs here in the council chambers,” Geselbracht said.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram

 

Lantzville

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

City council wants Nanaimo to be considered as a potential pilot site for safely supplied drugs

Council votes 6-3 to write to B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions

Truck loses a wheel in crash, keeps going, crashes again on Nanaimo’s Townsite Road

One person taken to hospital following accident Tuesday afternoon

Nanaimo company offering free soil for self-isolators to get into gardening

Milner Group inviting the public to pick up soil at its Biggs Road recycling facility on Saturday

Nanaimo man, allegedly drunk and high, arrested after climbing 100-foot tree

Man in sandals climbs fir tree, hurls obscenities at police below

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

COVID-19: Trudeau says 30K ventilators on the way; 3.6M Canadians claim benefits

Canada has seen more than 17,000 cases and at least 345 deaths due to COVID-19

Nanaimo bylaw officers on the lookout for COVID-19 control infractions

Bylaw and health officers watch for health order infractions, citizens can call in complaints

Nanaimo barbershop quartet records musical tribute to Dr. Bonnie Henry

Ode to provincial health officer is to the tune of a singing valentine

Nanaimo’s Lauren Spencer-Smith advances to American Idol top 20

Teen performs Respect at outdoor concert in Hawaii

COMMENTARY: Knowing where COVID-19 cases are does not protect you

Dr. Bonnie Henry explains why B.C. withholds community names

Nanaimo will be the community hardest-hit by ferry layoffs, union says

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union looking at its legal options

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

Most Read