Initial estimates indicate that the Municipality of North Cowichan is looking at a 2.89 per cent tax increase in 2019.

This tax rate is a starting point, as it doesn’t include growth, new tax base, or council discussions, but it does include the start of funding for the new, $40 million dollar RCMP detachment.

There are members of the public that see North Cowichan as having an obligation to stop tax increases, but in order to do that, Mayor Al Siebring said some items will need to be cut.

“I would simply ask the question, ‘so what would you like us to cut?’ Do we do less garbage and recycling pickup, do we let our infrastructure, our pipes and our sewers, do we expect them to last longer than they are now?” We’re facing, potentially, what’s called an infrastructure deficit there, in terms of the stuff that needs to be replaced and we don’t have the money in the bank to replace it,” said Siebring.

North Cowichan council always tries to keep tax increases at less than three per cent and Siebring said part of the initial estimate includes a portion of funding for the new RCMP detachment.

“This 2.89 per cent does include the start of funding that RCMP station which is remarkable,” said Siebring. “The last term, we worked very hard to keep taxes below three per cent.”

There are three budget meetings tonight, on the tenth, and on the seventeenth where the public is asked to provide input into the budget process.

Finance Director Mark Frame said tax increases of 5.35 and 4.17 per cent are projected in 2020 and 2021 to cover the costs of the new detachment.