Open houses that give residents and business owners the opportunity to offer suggestions generally draw few crowds. Despite newspaper articles and advertisements, the open houses in the Township draw, on average, about 35 people each year.
Civil servants and politicians are turning to social media to spread the word, and as a result, attendance was significantly higher at the Feb. 27 and 28 open houses. A total of 96 residents attended over the two days.
The budget is part of the five-year plan which spells out the Township’s list of needs and wants.
Council has given preliminary approval to the budget bylaw which raises taxes by 3.2 per cent, including a cost of living increase of 1.70 per cent, 0.5 per cent for police and fire protection, 0.5 per cent for road maintenance, and 0.5 per cent for a reserve fund which the Township can dip into for capital projects such as recreation centres.
If the increase is approved, the budget will add an extra $46.32 to the property taxes of a house assessed at $483,000.
Residents at Tuesday’s open house had some suggestions for how the Township can spend money now, and how it can make money to offset rising taxes.
“Fix the potholes,” one woman suggested.
The Township should enter into more public-private partnerships, said a businessman. He pointed to the Langley Events Centre as an opportunity for the Township to make some money by selling the rights to the name.
He noted that after 16 years, General Motors Place changed its name to Rogers Arena in 2011, and suggested that the Events Centre adopt a corporate name for a shorter duration.
Residents have until today (March 6) to let council have their needs and wants list. Public input response forms are available at the Civic Facility, 20338 65 Ave., and can be downloaded at www.tol.ca/budget.