City of Vancouver capital and operating budget goes before council on Tuesday

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      This year, Vancouver city staff are recommending a 2.3 percent hike in property taxes to help balance next year's $1.26-billion operating budget.

      The budget notes that Vancouver's average annual property-tax increase of two percent over the past five years is the second lowest in the region, only behind that of West Vancouver.

      The highest annual property-tax increase has been in Port Moody at just over 4.5 percent, followed by Pitt Meadows at 3.5 percent.

      City staff will present budget documents to council on Tuesday (December 15).

      Overall spending in the consolidated budget (including park board and other sources of revenue and capital projects) is expected to rise by 3.9 percent. This includes an 11.9 percent hike in capital additions, from $246 million to $275.3 million.

      Expenditure increases vary widely over different city departments.

      For example, expenditures and transfers are projected to rise 13.1 percent for engineering, 8.2 percent for planning and development, four percent for utility, 3.5 percent for fire and rescue services, 1.4 percent for parks and recreation, 0.9 percent for the library system, and 0.4 percent for police services.

      The budget document notes that the violent crime rate in Vancouver has fallen by 24 percent since 2012—nearly double the VPD's five-year target of a 12.5 percent reduction.

      "The VPD has been highly successful in taking proactive enforcement actions leading to arrests and prosecutions targeting the members of criminal organizations most likely to engage in violent behaviour," the budget states.

      Property crime, however, rose 11 percent between 2011 and 2014.

      Even with the relatively small spending increase, the VPD budget makes up 22 percent of the city's overall operating expenditures. 

      Spending on community and cultural services is projected to fall by 17.7 percent, from $109.9 million to $90.4 million. This area includes Britannia, civic theatres, and grants.

      These numbers have been skewed because of administrative changes over the past year.

      "In late 2014, the Inspections and Bylaw Administration groups were moved from Community Services to Planning and Development Services, creating a building services’ Centre of Excellence," the budget document states. "This change has helped foster better consistency between planning, building and inspection services while optimizing services provided to residents. Also in 2014, the Environmental Protection group was consolidated into the Real Estate and Facilities Management group, creating a Centre of Excellence to manage contaminated sites for the City."

      In fact, city grants are projected to increase by 3.5 percent next year. Cultural grants will rise by two percent.

      The entire budget document is available here.