As you have probably read already in the Times Colonist or on CBC.ca, the Premier froze property taxes at 2007 levels until 2009 and has allowed anybody, not just seniors, to defer property taxes for up to two years. While the short and long terms effects may be minor, it does shine on a light on the problem that municipal governments budgets are basically controlled via Victoria.
Lets look at the numbers. Oak Bay had a budget of about $27 million in 2007. About $15 million of that is property taxes. Property taxes are decided by a provincial authority, BC Assessment. Now imagine yourself a financial officer for a muncipality, trying to plan your budget, knowing that the vast majority of your budget is under the political control of another level of government.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear. Isn’t it time the provincial government stopped playing politics with municipal budgets?