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Taxes to go up 5.37% in Langley Township this year

Council votes to boost tax increase from 4.92%
Langley Township Coun. Steve Ferguson suggested an increase of the Township’s property tax rise this year to just over five per cent. (Screengrab/Township of Langley)

Langley Township residents will see their property taxes increase by 5.37 per cent this year, as council approved a small last-minute increase on Monday, April 3.

Councillor Steve Ferguson suggested the 0.45 per cent increase to the proposed 4.92 per cent tax increase, for an increase to the capital side of the budget.

Ferguson said he had looked at other municipalities, about supply chain challenges and potential cost increases as the Township puts forward an ambitious schedule of staff increase for both the Langley RCMP and the Township’s fire department.

He said the increase of just under half a percent to the tax rate will help with those challenges.

“Also, it equates to the average household, about 10 bucks per household,” Ferguson said.

The third reading of the budget was approved 8-1, with only Coun. Kim Richter opposed.

“This has been probably the hardest budget that I’ve been a part of,” said Mayor Eric Woodward.

He noted that coming out of COVID-19, the Township has still seen lower revenues from recreation facilities and put forward a very low tax increase in 2020.

This year, he emphasized the number of communities in the Lower Mainland that are giving their residents tax hikes of 10 per cent or more, including Langley City, Surrey, and Vancouver. Langley Township’s proposed tax increase started closer to 10 per cent as well.

“At a five per cent tax increase we are still managing the budget, we’ve done a number of reforms to get it way down,” Woodward said.

He noted that the municipalities that are putting forward tax increase close to or lower than the Township’s this year almost all rely on casino revenues, or in some cases are already planning higher tax increases for 2024.

Richter called comparisons to other communities a “lame excuse.”

“I didn’t support and I don’t support 4.92, and I certainly don’t support 5.37,” she said. “The reality is, we’re in tough economic times for people, they can’t even afford groceries as much as they did a year ago.”

However, Ferguson and other members of the majority slate on council, Woodward’s Contract with Langley (CWL), noted a need for more police, firefighters, and municipal services.

“I didn’t run and come out of retirement for a job like this to move backward,” Baillie said.

He admitted that “firefighters are expensive,” but said adding a firefighter helps save about six times that in damage to the community prevented.

Other costs, like increases to sewer, water, and solid waste, are largely out of the council’s hands, as they are determined by Metro Vancouver.

“The reality is we’ve got downloaded costs that we don’t get to control,” said Coun. Misty Van Popta.

“We’re dealing with massive growth and onboarding of significant new infrastructure, but also dealing with a lot of infrastructure that has to be replaced at taxpayer cost,” Woodward said, just before the vote.

The CWL slate gained a majority on council in last October’s elections with a detailed platform that promised a number of major infrastructure upgrades, including plans for a pool for Willoughby and more sports fields, as well as increases to the number of RCMP officers and firefighters, and a new firehall for Brookswood.

The council has already moved forward with planning a number of those projects, while delaying or scrapping some other plans that were in the works from the previous council.

This year’s budget is different from previous years, which usually had each project approved and budgeted for the coming year. Instead, the new budget has a number of “envelopes” of funding, within which are a number of projects. The envelopes represent the maximum that can be spent.

Council will consider the fourth and final vote on the budget bylaw at a future meeting.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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