Thursday, February 6, 2014

City of Langley 2014 Budget

The City of Langley has released it draft 2014 – 2018 Financial Plan. New this year, the City has put together an eight-page budget highlight document. It is well worth the read as it lays out the City’s budget process, where taxes go, what some of the big-ticket capital projects are, and why local taxes are increasing.

This year the City is planning to increase property tax by 2.71%. 0.75% of that increase is to cover infrastructure renewal which is desperately needed in the City.

Over the years, the City has been slowly balancing the amount of property tax it receive from residential and commercial properties. In 2014, it is proposed that 51.6% of taxation revenue come from residential properties. Even with the tax increase, due to assessed housing values changes, a strata owner will on average see no increase on his tax bill while a single-family owner will on average see a $50 dollar increase on her tax bill. Commercial property owners will see an average $630 increase on their tax bills. In total, the City plans to collect $22.8 million in property taxes.

Besides property taxes, the City's second largest source of income is the Casino which will contribute $5.8 million to the City’s bottom line. City of Langley residents contribute about $2.8 million to TransLink for transit and roads. The City of Langley will receive $298,000 to maintain the major road network from TransLink. The City will also receive $411,610 from the Township of Langley for Langley Youth and Family Services, Emergency Planning services, and RCMP building cost sharing.

Of the $28.3 million in operation expensive proposed for 2014, $578,145 is directly attributed to maintaining a city council. That works out to 2% of the overall operating budget.

Every year the City proposes a list of capital works projects. This year, the City has allocated $14.3 million for the reconstruction of Timms Community Centre. This one project represents about 2/3rds of the proposed 2014 capital budget. As this is such a larger capital project, I’m surprise that there is pretty much no information about the new Timms Community Centre available online.

Other proposed major projects include the rehabilitation (including water and sewer main replacement) of 200th Street between 50th Avenue and 56 Avenue for a total of $3.7 million. The City also plans to continue to implement its Public Realm Plan by continuing to upgrade the street lights and installing bike racks in the Downtown core. The City plans to start implementing its wayfinding strategy this year.

One of the things that I get disappointed about is that every year the City plans to spend $400,000 on cycling and pedestrian improvements, and every year that funding gets pushed back to a later year. This year is no different.

The full draft financial plan is available on the City’s website. At the February 17th council meeting, the plan will be presented and the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

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