Monday, January 26, 2015

City of Langley proposed 2015 budget and property tax changes

As we approach February, the City of Langley is putting the finishing touches on its proposed 2015-2019 financial plan. This plan directs municipal spending in the current year, and gives a rough idea of projected revenue and expenditures in the future.

The City of Langley will be hosting an open house on Wednesday, February 4th from 3:30pm to 7:00pm at the Douglas Recreation Centre. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the budget, this is an excellent opportunity to express your thoughts to City staff.

Police expenditures are the single largest expense in the City of Langley. The increase in policing costs over the latest several years has been rapid, outpacing other expenditures in the City. In 2013, the City spent $9.2 million on policing which represented 23% of overall expenditures. The City is proposing to spend $10.6 million on policing servings this year, representing 26% of overall expenditures. The proposed budget includes hiring additional RCMP members.

The increased cost of policing leaves less financial resources available for other priorities in the City.

While the City of Langley is an urban core with serious issues that result from poverty, it may be time for the City to explore other ways of dealing with the root causes of social issues and crime in our community. Adding more police is not sustainable. I’m concerned that policing is taking an ever increasing piece of the budget pie in our community.

While most municipal expenditures have increased year-over-year, the City is proposing to reduce spending on Development Services from $927,000 in 2014 to $911,595 in 2015.

The largest reduction in spending in the City of Langley is on solid waste. The solid waste budget has been reduced to $633,000 from $1 million in 2014. This is largely due to the transfer of recycling services to Multi-Material BC, the non-profit funded by businesses that create packaging and paper waste.

Overall City budgeted expenditures are increasing from $39.04 million in 2014 to $39.98 million in 2015.

With the changes in assessed property values in Langley, combined with the proposed 2015 budget, average property tax will decrease by $22 for multi-family homeowners while it will increase by $92 for single-family homeowners. The average multi-family homeowner will pay $779 in property tax while the average single-family homeowner will pay $1,889 in property tax. This might seem unfair, but under BC law, all residential property must be treated equally.

Over the last several years, the City of Langley has been adjusting the ratio of tax paid by residential and business property owners. In 2013, 53.2% of property tax came from residential property owners. In 2015, 51.1% of property tax is proposed to come from residential property owners.

With this adjustment, changes in assessed property values, and proposed 2015 budget, the average business property owner will pay $16,918 in property tax. This is an increase of $570 over 2014.

As business owners renew their leases with business property owners, business property owners may adjust leasing rates, factoring in property tax increases.

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