North Cowichan council has approved a proposed tax increase of 3.2 percent.

In February, staff presented council with some spending options that would have seen the tax rate increase by seven percent if all were implemented.

The municipality was initially proposing the addition of five staff members that would have cost an estimated $505,000 dollars, and Finance Director Mark Frame cut four of the five, keeping the new chief building inspector position.

Mayor Al Siebring said it’s important to keep the rate around the three percent threshold.

“There was some discussion of the psychological importance of keeping the increase at under three percent,” said Siebring. “I gave council the option, ‘I said, we can defeat this and tell staff to come back with some revised numbers that put us at under three percent,’ but there wasn’t the collective appetite to do that.”

Siebring said staff and council have done a good job of keeping the tax increases under three percent in the last few years.

“For the last four years here at North Cowichan, we have kept our increases at under three percent, but the total increase is more than three percent because there are other taxing agencies that we collect for that also show up on that tax bill,” said Siebring.

He said the biggest driver of property tax increases right now is the CVRD, in part, because of the affordable housing and water referendum questions that passed on election night.

Siebring said, with the new RCMP detachment to be built on Drinkwater Road, the municipal portion of the tax bill will likely climb as high as four and a half to five percent in 2020 and 2021.