Langley Township council is going to the public with a 4.92 per cent property tax increase proposed for this year, with voting on the new budget expected in early April.
The Township started its financial planning process early this year facing an increase of up to 9.63 per cent for local property taxes, which would not be that far out of line with neighbouring communities, which have been hammered by rising costs.
If approved, it would mean an increase of $112.72 for the average homeowner in the Township.
“This draft budget is presented in a time of ongoing uncertainty in the financial environment,” said the report on the budget. “High inflation, high interest rates, lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic including supply chain issues and the potential for a recession are all factors contributing to this uncertainty.”
Most of the increase will pay for salaries, including existing staff, but also new firefighters, RCMP officers, and bylaw officers, and new staff to speed up development application approvals. The absence of the COVID restart grant from last year also hit the budget.
Although the budget won’t be fully debated and voted on until after public input over the next two weeks, Councillor Kim Richter raised issues with the plan.
“I don’t support a 4.92 per cent tax increase,” Richter said.
She was also critical of the process this year, saying council has not had enough time to review the budget so far.
“Nobody wants to increase taxes,” said Coun. Steve Ferguson, a member of the Contract with Langley (CWL) majority on council.
But he noted that Langley Township’s proposed increase is the envy of some other communities.
“Many of them are going to be looking at higher tax increases than ourselves,” Ferguson said.
Langley City recently approved an 11.56 per cent tax increase, Vancouver is increasing its taxes by 10.7 per cent, and Surrey briefly considered an increase of 17.5 per cent, but decided to limit any increase to a maximum of 12.5 per cent.
READ MORE: New $7.2 million grant doesn’t change Langley City’s tax increase
Near the end of the discussion, Richter briefly sparred with Mayor Eric Woodward, bringing up his CWL slate’s pledges on property taxes.
“Well, 4.92 is not not raising property taxes,” Richter said.
“Councillor Richter, that may be a discussion better left for social media,” the mayor replied.
The new financial plan marks a departure from previous budgets, with “envelopes” of funding for new capital projects – construction and repair of infrastructure – rather than a detailed list of major projects with their expected costs.
May 15 is the deadline for all municipalities in B.C. to complete their budgets and financial plans for the year. Property taxes are collected in July.
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