Municipal budgeting is a year-round process, and public input is always welcome.
Budget 2022 engagement is focused on learning about budget basics and providing information about municipal budgets and the services your tax dollars pay for.
Budget timeline (click to enlarge)
Participate in the Budget Committee of the Whole meetings
Spanning 195 square kilometers, North Cowichan is the largest District Municipality by area on Vancouver Island, and is home to over 32,000 residents. A community of communities, North Cowichan is made up of several unique communities that include Chemainus, Crofton, Maple Bay, and many neighbourhoods that are centered around the greater-Duncan area.
Your municipal tax dollars pay for a wide variety of projects and services, serving this vast geographical area. From police and fire services to parks and recreation facilities, to roads, road maintenance, and water services.
Services provided by North Cowichan:
Services not provided by North Cowichan:
Every year presents its own budget challenges and difficult decisions, and North Cowichan's annual budget aims for a balance between setting a reasonable tax rate and delivering services expected by residents and businesses. Common challenges include:
- The budget must balance
- There is increased downloading from other levels of government, increased pressure to provide additional services; and increasing regulations that necessitate higher standards of care
- Aging infrastructure and increasing construction costs
Increased non-controllable expenditures such as hydro and insurance
Creating the budget
Every year Council and staff work together to develop an annual budget. The budget serves as an outline for how money that comes into the Municipality should be spent to maintain and improve the community.
With limited resources available, the budget helps in determining which objectives have the highest priority and will produce the greatest positive impact in the community.
Plans that influence the budget
The budget process, and the decisions that must be made on how to best lead the development of a safe, vibrant and sustainable municipality, are supported by the following plans:
- Official Community Plan
- 2019 – 2022 Council Strategic Plan
- 2022 Departmental Business Plans
- CAO Office [PDF - 3 MB]
- Human Resources and Corporate Planning [PDF - 3 MB]
- Financial Services[PDF - 3 MB]
- RCMP Detachment [PDF - 3 MB]
- Information Management and Information Technology [PDF - 3 MB]
- Operations [PDF - 3 MB]
- Parks and Recreation [PDF - 3 MB]
- Fire and Bylaw Services [PDF - 4 MB]
- Forestry [PDF - 3 MB]
- Engineering [PDF - 4 MB]
- Planning and Building [PDF - 4 MB]
- Environmental Services [PDF - 4 MB]
A balancing act
Each year North Cowichan must balance the budget. While a municipality can use debt to pay for large capital projects, it cannot use debt to fund day to day operations. Therefore, revenue sources must be identified to cover all anticipated expenditures. To balance the budget, a careful analysis of the level of service needed to meet the expectations of the community balanced against realistic taxation and user fees must occur.
We are a service organization. Our customers include: youth, families, seniors, pet owners, renters, home owners, business owners, workers, employees, retirees, pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, developers, walkers, sports enthusiasts, artists. Our challenge is to meet the needs of as many of these customers as possible in a fiscally responsible way. But the needs and wants of our customers are not always the same, and we must also attempt to balance these sometimes conflicting needs and wants.
Municipalities use a variety of revenue sources to pay for a wide range of services that residents and businesses depend on and use regularly. User fees attempt to align the value of a service to those who use the service (eg. water, garbage). Whereas property taxes are a stable and reliable source of revenue for services that are hard or undesirable to fund on a user-pay basis (eg. police and fire).
Revenue Sources (2021)
Value for taxpayers
80% of people surveyed in our 2019 Citizen Satisfaction Survey [PDF - 1 MB] felt that they were getting fairly good or very good value for the services North Cowichan provides. Many of our services are available 24/7, 365 days per year. Employees are always on call to deal with emergencies and events such as fires, accidents, blocked drains, fallen trees or even snow storms.
Property taxes and assessments
Tax revenue is made up of property taxes and parcel taxes and together they make up 43.5% of the total revenue of the municipality. Property taxes are based on the assessed value of property as determined by BC Assessment, an independent third party who values all property in British Columbia. Taxes are calculated as:
Rising assessments do not necessarily mean that property taxes will increase. The most important factor is not how much your assessment has changed, but how your assessment has changed relative to the average change for your property class.
If your assessment increases by 20% but the average assessment increases by 30%, your taxes will likely decrease. But if your assessment increases by 40% and the average assessment increases by 30%, your taxes will likely increase.
How does North Cowichan compare?
North Cowichan has some of the lowest taxes in the province for similarly sized municipalities, with total taxes and charges on a representative house less than the provincial average. Some municipalities separate utility charges (e.g. water, sewer, garbage collection) and bill these at a different time during the year. North Cowichan includes these charges on the annual property tax bill.
Per capita, North Cowichan’s taxes are very similar to other municipalities on Vancouver Island with populations greater than 15,000. North Cowichan’s taxes per capita are $1,021 as compared to the average of $979.
For more information, please contact:
Director, Financial Services