Residents in Sooke are concerned about the imminent tax hikes to pay for the new sewer system.
Sooke Budget per the Editorial in the Sooke News Mirror March 28, 2001
So Sooke’s administrator Tom Day went before his masters last week and told them “choices have to be made.” How laughable. Mr. Day, of course, was referring to the district’s upcoming budget shortfall after one year of his being at the helm of the operation at the District of Sooke.
Instead of the anticipated 3.5-per cent tax increase which was spelled out in Sooke’s incorporation study, preliminary figures show Sooke taxpayers can expect to pay 50 per cent more in municipal taxes -- 5.21 per cent -- simply to maintain exisiting services.
Of course Sooke council, acting on Day’s many recommendations, has been making choices since shortly after the municipality’s inception in Dec. 1999, few of which have improved the quality of life or level of service to average residents.
One of their first choices was to scoff at the incorporation study’s recommended annual indemity of $12,000 for mayor and $4,000 for councillor and instead make themselves the higest paid councillors and second-highest paid mayor in the Western Communities.
They chose to fire a volunteer fire chief and hire a paid chief at a cost of $65,000 a year plus thousands in benefits. They chose to hire and fire an engineer who didn’t fit in, and wound up paying a sizeable severance package.
They chose to divorce themselves from the Capital Regional District development services contract and hire their own planning and office staff.
They chose to renovate their office at least three times in a matter of months.
They chose to hire a consultant to conduct a sewage system study for the village core -- a study which will be used to devise a system to service a specified area but which will cost all taxpayers about $100,000 upon its completion. They chose to hire a consultant to conduct a traffic study at a cost of $30,000, which does little more than state the obvious. They chose to hire a consultant, for who knows how much, to conduct a review of the Official Community Plan. With all these consultants, one wonders what district staff are doing in their thrice-renovated office to earn their $600,000 plus in wages?
They are choosing to scrap a projected $1.8-million budgetary surplus after 12 years and replace it with a surplus of as little as $350,000, instead of injecting over $100,000 more annually into the operating budget.
Yes, Mr. Day. choices have already been made -- and judging from the preliminary budget figures not all of them have been good ones for taxpayers.