Yesterday was the first City of Langley council meeting of the new year. With the new year, also comes a new budget. The 2017 Financial Plan was given first and second reading at last night’s meeting which now enables people to provide feedback on the proposed plan.
There are two major components of the financial plan, the capital budget and the operating budget. The operating budget pays for on-going services that the City provides while the capital budget pays for building long-term assets like roads, sewer lines, and facilities such as Timms Community Centre.
This post will focus mainly on the operating budget. Tomorrow, I’ll post about the capital budget.
What I’ve heard from people is that they want to see the City invest in improving their quality of life, and invest in our community’s infrastructure. Council via the financial plan is proposing to invest in five key areas: public safety, addressing homelessness, improving our parks and public spaces, renewing our infrastructure, and bringing more positive activities to the community. The following highlights some of the ways that the operating budget portion of the plan invests in these key areas.
The largest expenditure for the City is the RCMP. One of the things that I’m leery about is increasing the number of police officers due to the high cost. As per the financial plan, policing costs will be increasing by around $700,000 even with no increase in police strength. Besides determining the number of police officers in our community, the City has very little control over the police budget.
To better address parking enforcement, dog off-leash issues, and homeliness matters, the financial plan includes $79,800 to add a new bylaw officer.
The financial plan also includes $10,000 to add to a previously approved $20,000 to hire a part-time Community Liaison Coordinator. This person will work with social service agencies, the RCMP and the business community to address critical social issues in our community. They will also oversee the implementation of the Homelessness Strategic Plan and the Community Crime Prevention Strategic Plan.
$90,000 has been added to the operating budget for the new Corridor Improvement Program. This funding will be used to improve the maintenance of walkways, boulevards, sidewalks and medians.
The new Timms Community Centre is a much larger facility than its predecessor. An additional $124,550 has been added to the operating budget for increased staffing at Timms.
Bringing more positive activity to Langley City including free, family-friendly events such as the McBurney Plaza Summer Series is something that our community strongly supports. The financial plan includes $63,650 for more of these events.
In total, the financial plan will result in a $883,595 net increase over last years’ budget which requires a 3.61% tax increase to balance it. This number includes regular wage and benefits increases, and other items which you can read about on page 5 of the financial plan.
Hearing from the community about the financial plan is important. There will be an informal open house on February 1st between 6:00pm and 7:30pm at City Hall where you can ask questions and provide feedback on the plan. There will also be an opportunity to comment on the plan at the February 6th council meeting.