"What We Heard" - Outcome of Public Input on Draft 2016 Budget

North Cowichan hosted a series of four town hall meetings in January 2016 to provide an overview of the draft 2016 Municipal budget and to seek community input on priorities for the coming year. In addition, we ran an informal online survey over January 2016 to get a general idea of how our citizens feel about the services they receive from the Municipality.
Staff prepared an extensive report on "What We Heard," which was discussed at Council's Committee of the Whole meeting on February 25, 2016. We encourage you to review the "What We Heard" report to learn the key themes of feedback that we received during the town hall meetings and through the online survey.
Based on the input we received, participants ranked the following projects as lowest priority for 2016:The amalgamation study with the City of Duncan ($40,000); andThe paving of the dike ($145,000).
Council discussed this feedback and decided to surface the dike with cart path instead of paving at a cost of $40,000 and to reallocate the savings to the completion of a new sidewalk along Sherman Road, from Somenos Road to the Sikh Temple, at a cost of $105,000.
Council also considered the amalgamation study, and after discussion with the City of Duncan, has decided to proceed with the study, given that:the process has already commenced;that 67% of voters stated that they supported this study during the last Municipal election; andthat 72% of local businesses recently surveyed supported amalgamation.
Finally, based on your input, Council decided to adjust the budget so that the average general municipal net tax increase this year will be 2.30%, rather than 2.96%. An important outcome of this decision was the lowering of the tax burden on Light Industry (Class 5) by 15% (the remaining balance was equally distributed across the other property classes). Council had prioritized a review of the Class 5 tax rate for 2016 to see whether it could be made competitive with the rest of Vancouver Island, and specifically with the City of Nanaimo. 
Thank you for your input. We're listening. Please keep in touch with us by forwarding your feedback tocouncil@northcowichan.ca. Also, be sure to sign up for updates on matters affecting your community by visiting:www.northcowichan.ca/subscribe.