Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Township of Langley Proposed 2013 Operating Budget

At the latest Township Council Priorities Meeting, a proposed draft of the 2013 – 2017 Operating Financial Plan was presented. You can read about the 2013 Capital Budget on a previous post.

To account for growth in salaries and other inflationary pressures, the financial plan assumes a yearly 2.95% increase in property tax combined with an average increase in property tax revenue of an additional 2% due to organic growth. For 2012, the proposed property tax increase is 2.79%. The total budget for 2013 is proposed to be $135 million.

When you look at the municipal operating budget, there is very little “new” spending as most of the increase in revenue goes to maintaining existing service levels. There are a few new items in this year’s budget though.

The Township plans to add one additional RCMP member in 2013, 4 in 2014, with more to follow in additional years. There is also a $1.28 million increase in RCMP policing contract costs. Policing costs are the largest budget item and now represent 23% of the Township’s budget or $31 million. Those costs seem to be spiralling upwards almost uncontrollably. It’s like provincial health costs, everyone knows that something needs to change, but there seem to be a reluctant to change anything. While it is easy to blame the federal government for everything, they have placed more funding responsibility for policing on local government over the years in an effort to balance the federal budget. To put policing costs into perceptive, fire services are budgeted at $15 million for 2013.

Besides general government, the next biggest budget items are transportation, and recreation and cultural. The transportation budget for 2013 includes a increase of $500,000 to top up the road paving reserve fund. I did note that there has been a $200,000 reduction for “Planted Area Maintenance” in the operating budget for transportation and a general reduction for this line item in other budgets as well. I wonder if less maintenance on planet boulevards and other planted areas maintained by the Township will result in uglier streets and an uglier community. While not in the 2013 budget, the 2014 budget includes $205,300 to pay for the operating costs of the proposed $35.5 million Aldergrove Community Centre.

Other new operating spending in 2013 includes contributing around $90,000 to the Fire Department Vehicle Replacement Reserve Fund and an additional $500,000 to the general Capital Infrastructure Reserve Fund.

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