Langley Township council unanimously approved a budget on Monday with a reduced tax increase of two per cent across the board, roughly half what had been proposed.
Mayor Jack Froese explained the reduction was accomplished by postponing some projects and internal borrowing.
Mayor and council recognized that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Township residents and business owners are to face a number of fiscal challenges.
Froese noted that the average annual tax increase “before this pandemic” was near 4.02 per cent.
“Taxes still had to rise a certain amount to cover higher mandatory costs such as police,” Froese told the Langley Advance Times.
As well, the penalty for later payment of taxes has been reduced from five per cent to 1.75 per cent if a payment isn’t made by July.
Councillor Bob Long called it a “COVID-19 budget,” saying the Township had accidentally benefited from taking longer than most municipalities to approve a budget.
Coun. Kim Richter said “I’m really happy that we’re pulling the taxes back for everybody.”
Coun. David Davis said these are uncertain times and council has “got to do what we can do” to ease the burden for taxpayers.
Coun. Steve Ferguson said the Township had to “roll up its sleeves” and do whatever it could to ease the tax burden.
Coun. Blair Whitmarsh called it an “excellent move.”
Coun. Eric Woodward said the Township was one of the last municipalities in the region to approve a budget.
“What we can do, we must,” Woodward said.
(Update: Unanimous approval was given to the tax increase during an afternoon council meeting on Friday, March 27)
In January, council was informed by Township staff that the cost “to keep the lights on” would result in a 4.12 per cent tax increase.
Its increasing costs were driven by provincial taxes, and an increase in salary for unionized employees.
Last year, the Township passed a budget with a 3.85 per cent tax increase.
Previously, Township property owners saw increases of 2.47 per cent in 2018, 3.99 per cent in 2017, 3.93 per cent in 2016, and 3.69 per cent in 2015.
[Mayoral message for Township residents]