Mission council green lit their 2021 budget and five-year financial plan, granting three readings to the new financial plan bylaw on Dec. 21.
The councillors voting positions had not altered since heavy debates during the last discussion on Dec. 2.
Mission property owners will likely see a two per cent net-tax increase in the coming year.
Coun. Carol Hamilton complimented staff on their ability to whittle down an initial increase of at least five per cent.
“We asked staff to do a really deep dive and sharpen their pencil and come in with a budget that we could agree with,” Hamilton said. “The next year or two are going to be just as difficult … To maintain services, we do need to have some tax increase.”
But not all councillors were in agreement.
Coun. Ken Herar maintained his position of a zero per cent increase, and while Coun. Jag Gill thought the former’s tax freeze was unrealistic, he restated his position that the district should not be spending $92,000 for a new administrative position for the Parks and Recreation Department.
“I’m not naive, I know that we have to carry forward [with tax increases] as we grow,” Gill said. “I know departments are suffering [with staffing], and eventually we’ll have to hire … But I think there has to be some metrics in place to know that the community is really getting a bang for their buck.”
Coun. Danny Plecas reiterated his support for the budget, along with his worry about draining district reserves.
During the previous meeting (Dec. 2) councillors agreed to draw $140,000 out of municipal reserves to further slash the net-tax increase.
“We have many, many projects forthcoming – both water and sewer in particular – and many projects at this point in time are not funded. We have about $80 million in unfinished projects on the table,” Plecas said.
Acting Mayor Cal Crawford acknowledged tax increases would bring hardship to some areas of the district, but said that previous councils had suffered “in spades down the road” for cutting back.