(Westerly file photo)

Tofino approves 11 per cent tax hike

Taxpayers will be digging deeper into their wallets than initially expected this year

Tofino taxpayers will be digging deeper into their wallets than initially expected this year as the town’s municipal council recently approved an 11 per cent tax increase.

The district plans to spend just under $33 million in 2022 and collect $5.65 million in taxes.

Director of financial services Nyla Attiana’s early estimate in February suggested property taxes would increase by about 4 per cent, but in a presentation to council on May 5 she explained that estimate had doubled.

“The tax increase that was at 4 per cent in February has moved up to 8.03 per cent,” she said.

She added that the total general taxation increase in 2022 will be 11.03 per cent, which includes a 5 per cent increase to the capital and infrastructure levy and a 2 per cent decrease for debt servicing.

“I want to remind council that in February when we presented the budget, the budget was out of balance by $1.3 million and that included a 4 per cent tax increase,” she said. “We were able to balance the budget however we were not able to do so without a further tax increase.”

She said the budget was balanced by adjusting project timelines, allocating general surplus reserve funds and raising property taxes.

“This was a very difficult budget to prepare,” she said. “We are in economic times that are extremely complicated. We are

seeing inflationary increases across the board, materials, supplies, equipment, hydro and fuel increases as a result of current events and the market responses to tenders of proposals are exceeding our engineering estimates.”

She suggested about 35 per cent of the budget will be covered by grants, 14 per cent from reserves, 12 per cent from user fees and charges, 12 per cent from taxation, 11 per cent from loans and the remaining roughly 16 per cent from various sources including the capital and infrastructure levy.

She noted water and sewer fees were both increased by four per cent on Jan. 1.

She said the budget aims to address housing by providing reductions to development cost charges, targets ageing infrastructure, adds staffing resources and boosts recreation and child care capacity.

She added that 2022’s budget will invest $2 million into infrastructure, including roads and sidewalks and parks and recreation facilities and that another $3.76 million will be invested from 2023-2026.

She said the recently announced district staff restructuring will require additional office space and laid out a $141,670 plan that includes the purchase of two 10’ by 32’ trailers to create additional office spaces near the municipal hall and public works yard.

She added purchasing the trailers would be “far more economical” than leasing.

The district is also continuing its pursuit of a $7 million recreation facility project and is looking to purchase a new tsunami siren for $70,000, including installation.

The biggest financial ticket on the docket is the longstanding, and federally mandated, wastewater treatment plant that is currently expected to cost about $77 million.

Tofino’s 11.03 per cent increase for 2022 was officially approved by council on May 10 and is right in line with neighbouring Ucluelet, which recently approved an 11.06 per cent increase.

READ MORE: District of Ucluelet proposes 11.06 % property tax increase

READ MORE: Pursuit of new recreation facility rolling strong in Tofino

READ MORE: Municipal salaries in Tofino and Ucluelet

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