Tax boost proposed to help fund fire hall

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The Salt Spring Fire Protection District is looking to address a historic lack of long-term financial planning by setting aside a new fire hall replacement fund of $300,000 per year starting in 2019.

The 2019 budgeting process saw the district’s board of trustees vote to set a tax requisition of $3.16 million on Monday night, for a total increase of nearly 19 per cent over 2018. Based on the median assessed home value of $503,000, the increase will cost the average homeowner $70 more in taxes. The higher number represents increased operational costs for employees and benefits as well as the new $300,000 reserve, but a decrease in debt servicing costs.

Trustee Howard Holzapfel said planning for infrastructure replacement should have been implemented long ago.

“This is something that past boards did not do and no board in 50 years has ever done, and it was very irresponsible,” Holzapfel said.

The reserve will both fund the initial stages of a new fire hall project and put money toward its construction, but will be discontinued if and when the board gets borrowing authority from taxpayers to finance the project. Repayment of borrowed funds will then replace the reserve in the tax burden.

For more on this story, see the Aug. 22, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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