Two-percent property tax increase proposed in Vancouver budget

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      Vancouver’s proposed $1.2-billion operating budget for 2014 includes a property-tax increase of 1.9 percent.

      The budget document released today (November 27) also outlines an average utility-rate increase of 2.7 percent and a 1-percent user-fee increase.

      Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie says the city has been able to improve services while keeping taxes at a moderate rate.

      “This budget itself comes in at 1.9 [percent] but the number of hours we’re providing in our community centres has expanded significantly since 2009, and swimming pools and ice rinks and these types of services have all increased,” the chair of the city finance and service committee told the Straight by phone.

      But Non-Partisan Association councillor George Affleck says he was hoping to see the property-tax increase kept under 1 percent. He argues that taxpayers have faced too much of a burden through cumulative tax increases of more than 15 percent over the last five years.

      “I think taxpayers are taking on too much,” the NPA councillor said in a phone interview.

      Louie countered that under an NPA council, Vancouver taxpayers saw an 18 percent increase over three years.

      “I think George Affleck needs to tell taxpayers the full story of what he would cut in terms of services,” said Louie. “After doing extensive consultation with our public, we maintained the basic services for our citizens that they feel are important.”

      Utilities and engineering public works make up 29 percent of the budget, and spending on police comprises 20 percent.

      According to the budget document, savings of approximately $7.2 million were identified across the organization in order to mitigate the impact of fixed cost increases.

      “These savings were identified by embracing new technology, enhancing workforce management, streamlining business processes, integrating services, sharing resources and strategic procurement of goods and services,” its reads.

      About 30 full-time equivalent positions will be left unfilled next year.

      Affleck said he wanted to see a more detailed breakdown of spending by department in the budget.

      The more than 200-page document includes service metrics in a number of areas, a measure that Louie said allows the public to track improvements.

      “It’s not just a measure of how much money, because I think that only tells half the story,” he said. “I think people are more interested to know that their services are being provided.”

      Some examples of service metrics featured in the document include the establishment of 36 new community garden plots on city-owned land in 2013, an expansion of 10 kilometres in the city’s bike network, and the installation of 77 countdown timers at pedestrian crosswalks.

      The proposed budget is set to go before Vancouver city council for consideration on December 10. Members of the public will also have an opportunity to ask city staff questions about the budget at a session at Vancouver City Hall from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on December 2.

      The 2014 capital budget, which will also go before council on December 10, outlines some of the major capital spending projects over the next year. Some of the main initiatives in the $285-million budget include completing construction on the Powell Street overpass, reconstruction of the Taylor Manor supportive-housing project, and construction work on the new Strathcona library.

      Both the operating and capital budgets can be viewed on the City of Vancouver’s website.

      Comments

      12 Comments

      MOFO

      Nov 27, 2013 at 7:19pm

      Gotta pay for the..

      * Owe-plympics - False Creek Condos $1 Billion recouped only about 50% add Legal Fees & Maintenance of Buildings etc :)

      * $565 Million for a Leaky Tarp Roof mostly for the White Caps & CFL Lions owned by some Business guys, some that comes from the City, either directly or indirectly, Police services for events & overtime for example),

      * Part of the $171 Million + $15 Million per year for the Fare Gates that will NEVER pay for themselves,

      * Various beautification projects for Roads etc in Rich only neighborhoods where I live in Kits & Pt., Grey, :)

      Those kind of number add up quick gotta pay for that Owe-lympics gotta pay pay pay :)

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      Hazlit

      Nov 27, 2013 at 10:27pm

      I'm with MOFO on the roof, otherwise OK with it as long as we can build some theatres with that money.

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      Truth BOMB

      Nov 28, 2013 at 1:04am

      @Hazlit:
      We have enough theatres. And enough talented people to fill them. We just need people to show up. And for the media to spend a little less time on twerking and a little more time on local culture. I'm looking at you Van Sun, Province, Westender, Global, CBC, et al.

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      Vote

      Nov 28, 2013 at 8:05am

      I believe all new tax hike suggestions should go to vote. It should be clear that a.) the new tax hike is X and b.) these are the EXTRA things we get for it. It should then go to vote.

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      payup

      Nov 28, 2013 at 8:56am

      like anyone is capable of stopping them from increasing the fees.....

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      Michael

      Nov 28, 2013 at 9:30am

      MOFO, all the windmills you are tilting at are within the province's jurisdiction.

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      Taking it every which way

      Nov 28, 2013 at 9:36am

      What's another 2% property tax increase Vancouver? Just add it to the increases in MSP premiums. Or place it on the shelf next to rising ICBC rates. Maybe store it next to the 15% increase in BC Hydro rates over the next two years. Don't forget bridge tolls, gas taxes, carbon taxes, transit levies and user fees. Oh yeah, throw in rising home and tenant insurance rates, elevated food prices and the volatility of fuel pricing. But hey, look, since 2009 we've opened community centres for more hours. <slow clap> Really Vision? That's your reasoning? When any politician, Vision or otherwise, justifies a tax increase by saying "its just 2%" (or ignores the cumulative impact of continuous 2% increases) they miss the reality of living in BC, where citizens suffer death by a thousand cuts each and every day. How about no increases? How novel. How about you spend the money you have and not the money you don't?

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      Yoda

      Nov 28, 2013 at 10:52am

      The real increases in property taxes are not really shown by these statistics. The increase in rates are not the issue, it's the increase in assessed values of Vancouver properties that drives property taxes up. My property taxes doubled over a three year period. While I'm happy that my property value has increased, the services I receive have not changed. Unlike many, I don't mind paying for things that make the community better. But, let's be honest about how much more money the city is collecting.
      When you build a new home in Vancouver, in addition to the extensive list of permitting fees and property taxes. You are charged a Development Cost Levy, this charge is 2.95 per square foot of living space including the garage. So, you are paying about $10K (in this levy alone) for a home with a suite and garage (3500sqft). These fees just increased. I think there should be a little more discloser about how much more money the city is actually collecting.

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      Fleeced by Moonbeam

      Nov 28, 2013 at 11:10am

      A 0.6% "saving" touted by Coun. Louie is laughable and shows the incompetence and how financially unsustainable are the policies of *di-vision vancouver* regime.

      ($7.2 million savings on a $1.2 Billion budget translates to 0.6%)

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      Only the news that's fit to print

      Nov 28, 2013 at 11:35am

      Does that 2% increase cover the cost of Vision's burgeoning communications department at City Hall? How many staff members are there now, Gregor? It would be great to know, too bad they won't tell us being the crack squad of consummate communications professionals dedicated to transparency in municipal government and all.

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