Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Using your tax dollars wisely: How does Langley City stack up?

The BC Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development recently released a series of statistics about local governments for the year 2015. With this year coming to an end, local governments throughout the province are beginning the process of developing their 2017 budgets and financial plans.

One of the things that I find interesting is the different ways that local governments allocate the tax revenue that they receive to provide local services to their residents. I thought it would be informative to compare the City of Langley to other municipalities within Metro Vancouver.

It would be difficult to compare Langley City to other communities in other regional districts, as different regional districts provide different services to local governments. In our region, the big-ticket items that Metro Vancouver provides are water and sewer services. Also, labour costs for similar local government jobs in our region are fairly consistent.

For comparison, I used White Rock, Pitt Meadows, and Port Moody which have similar populations. All information is from 2015, and are operating costs. Operating costs do not include the cost of capital projects such as putting in a new playground, reconstructing a road, or building a new community centre as examples.

White Rock Population: 19,327
Pitt Meadows Population: 19,652
Langley City Population: 27,738
Port Moody Population: 34,554

2015 Select Municipal Expenses for White Rock, Pitt Meadows, Langley City, and Port Moody. Source: 2015 British Columbia Local Government Statistics Schedule 402. Select table to enlarge.

The general rule of thumb is that as a municipality's population grows, so does the level of services provided. I did want to point out some outliers though.

Pitt Meadows has lower policing costs. It is also a rural municipality with 86% of its land being agricultural. The other communities are urban centres.

Langley City doesn’t provide recycling services, it is provided by Multi-Material BC which is funded by the private sector.

White Rock had lower water services operating costs in 2015 because it had a private water utility at that time. White Rock has higher transportation costs, but it also has a significant parking revenue stream.

Port Moody invests significantly more in the operation of its parks and recreation facilities. Langley City invests less in its parks and recreation facilities operations compared to other municipalities given its population.

Looking at these numbers, Langley City is certainly not a spendthrift. In the case of recycling services, it is actually saving taxpayers a significant sum of money.

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