City staff pro­pose hike in spend­ing of 7.8 per­cent A brief­ing on the bud­get will be held on De­cem­ber 3

The Georgia Straight - - News - By Car­l­ito Pablo

Van­cou­ver’s new mayor and coun­cil are sched­uled to vote on their first bud­get on De­cem­ber 18.

The draft bud­get for 2019 pre­pared by staff pro­poses a prop­er­ty­tax in­crease of 4.9 per­cent. The in­crease is higher than the 4.2-per­cent hike ap­proved for the 2018 bud­get by the pre­vi­ous city coun­cil.

The pro­posed 4.9-per­cent prop­erty-tax in­crease rep­re­sents a bill of $2,322 for a sin­gle-fam­ily home as­sessed at $1.8 mil­lion, or $108 more com­pared to the cur­rent year.

For a res­i­den­tial unit as­sessed at $1.2 mil­lion, the tax will amount to $1,621, for a $76 in­crease. Own­ers of strata units worth $700,000 will get an in­voice for $887, or a $41 in­crease over 2018.

The draft bud­get notes that in 2018, 42 per­cent of res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in Van­cou­ver were sin­gle-fam­ily homes, 53 per­cent were strata units, and five per­cent were other forms of hous­ing.

A busi­ness prop­erty as­sessed at $855,300 will get a prop­erty-tax bill of $4,139, which is $193 more than this year.

Ac­cord­ing to the bud­get book, half of the prop­erty taxes funds city ser­vices. The rest goes to re­gional ser­vices, pro­vin­cial school taxes, tran­sit, and B.C. As­sess­ment.

The draft bud­get ex­plains that the 4.9-per­cent tax in­crease cov­ers in­fla­tion (2.2 per­cent), the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s em­ployer health tax (1.7 per­cent), and in­vest­ments in in­fra­struc­ture re­newal (1 per­cent).

In ad­di­tion to prop­erty taxes, util­ity fees are also pro­posed to in­crease in 2019, at a com­bined rate of 8.7 per­cent, rep­re­sent­ing the av­er­age for the fol­low­ing hikes: wa­ter, 9.7 per­cent; sewer, 11 per­cent; and solid waste, 3.1 per­cent.

More­over, user fees charged by the Van­cou­ver board of parks and re­cre­ation will in­crease by two per­cent.

“Over the past sev­eral years, Van­cou­ver has con­sis­tently had one of the low­est av­er­age prop­erty-tax in­creases among Metro Van­cou­ver mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” the draft bud­get states. “Even when com­bin­ing mu­nic­i­pal taxes with util­ity fee in­creases, Van­cou­ver con­tin­ues to be in the mid-range among the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Metro Van­cou­ver.”

An op­er­at­ing bud­get of $1.5 bil­lion is pro­posed for 2019. It rep­re­sents an in­crease of 7.8 per­cent, or $109 mil­lion, over the cur­rent year.

The Van­cou­ver Po­lice De­part­ment is be­ing al­lot­ted 21 per­cent of the op­er­at­ing bud­get. For 2019, the po­lice will get $317.2 mil­lion, a 3.2-per­cent in­crease over this year’s $307.3 mil­lion.

“While crime is es­ti­mated to be lower in 2019, as com­pared with that in 2018, the to­tal num­ber of calls for ser­vice con­tin­ues to trend higher,” the draft bud­get ex­plains. “As the ex­pec­ta­tions and com­plex­i­ties around polic­ing evolve, the ad­di­tion of staff will help the VPD achieve the de­sired trends.”

A bud­get brief­ing for the pub­lic will be held on Mon­day (De­cem­ber 3) at City Hall, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic have to reg­is­ter on­line if they wish to ad­dress coun­cil at a spe­cial meet­ing on De­cem­ber 11.

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