Courtenay mayor Larry Jangula introduced the resolution. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Courtenay council votes down tax freeze, core services review

A resolution to freeze the City’s taxes this year at 2017 levels failed in a 5-2 vote

A resolution to freeze taxes and undergo a core services review was voted down by Courtenay city council on Feb. 19.

Proposed by mayor Larry Jangula, the resolution called for an immediate tax freeze at 2017 levels for 2018 in Courtenay, as well as a core services review by City staff to determine possible cost-saving measures.

Jangula cited a number of reasons for the resolution, including Courtenay’s single-family property assessments having increased on average 22 per cent in 2017, the City’s operating expenses budget increasing 27.3 per cent since 2013, and residential utility rates for water, sewer and garbage increasing 25.5 per cent in the same time frame.

Read More: Property assessments, home prices on the rise in the Comox Valley

He also mentioned a list of large infrastructure projects for water, sewer, and solid waste upgrades underway at the regional district level that is further putting the strain on taxpayers.

“We have to separate our needs from our wants,” he said, adding that people’s incomes are not increasing at the same rates as their taxation.

Coun. David Frisch was the first to speak after the resolution was introduced. He said he felt the motion was premature, considering the City is still looking at its 2018 budget.

“Which core services would we be reviewing? Would we be reviewing roadways, water, sewer, recreation?” he asked. “It should be noted that, even though I open my tax bill and see it’s gone up $200 or $300, I recognize there is quite a bit of value in that tax bill.”

Council voted 5-2 against the resolution.

“I think a lot of issues we have is relaying those benefits to our citizens and saying ‘this is the value you’re getting when you pay those three or four thousand dollars every year’,” said Frisch.

Another councillor who opposed the resolution was Erik Eriksson.

“[A core services review] suggests we haven’t been doing our job,” he said. “I don’t think we deserve that criticism. I think we all worked hard, as well as our staff, to make sure things are properly in line.”

After about 20 minutes of discussion, the resolution failed in a 5-2 vote. Only Jangula and Coun. Manno Theos voted in favour.

After the meeting, the mayor acknowledged that he didn’t think council would support his resolution.

“I didn’t think the council would support it but I had to make the motion and get it on the table because I think it’s a topic that has to be discussed in this community,” said Jangula.

“We have a council that really means well and cares about people. What happens is that it’s so hard to say no. There are so many good groups. What group do you say no to? But the reality is that when you say yes, you’re taking money that could go to someone else.”

Alongside the resolution to freeze taxes, the proposal for city staff to undergo a core services review was also voted down.

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