Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 6th, 2017 Council Meeting Notes: 2017 Budget and Financial Plan receives third reading, and fixing the taxation imbalance.

Yesterday’s City of Langley council meeting started with a Committee of the Whole to provide people an opportunity to comment on the proposed 2017-2021 Financial Plan for the City. As I posted about previously, the proposed 2017 budget is focused on public safety, addressing homelessness, improving our parks and public spaces, renewing our infrastructure, and bringing more positive activities to the community.

The capital component of the proposed budget will invest some $21.7 million into to the community. The operating component of proposed budget will see service level improvements in the maintenance of parks, boulevard, and trails among other things.

There will also be enhancements to public safety, including an additional bylaw officer. 45.6% of our budget, or $25.7 million is proposed to be invested into protective services.

A Community Liaison Coordinator will be hired if the budget is approved. This person will work with social service agencies, the RCMP and the business community to address critical social issues in our community.

The proposed budget helps address many of the concerns I’ve heard from members of our community.

The proposed budget will require a 3.61% increase in revenue over the previous year. This includes a 0.5% infrastructure levy to ensure that we have the funds to replace critical items such as water and sewer lines.

There were not public comments, written or in-person, received about the proposed Financial Plan at last night's meeting.

I also attended the Financial Open House last week; a hand full of people attended the open house. I spent a good amount of time at the open house talking with a person about improvements they would like to see in the community including upgraded street lighting and enhanced maintenance of sidewalks.

The 2017-2021 Financial Plan was given third reading by council. At the next council meeting, the plan will go to a vote for final adoption.

One of the challenges with the current property tax system is that there is only one tax class and therefore only rate that can be applied to all residential properties. Because strata units and single-family properties appreciating at different rates, there is an imbalance in taxation levels.

The proposed Financial Plan contains a section on selected residential properties. For the selected single-family properties, the tax proposed to be paid this year to the City would change by an average of $105. For the selected strata units, the proposed tax paid would change by an average of -$20.

The provincial government controls property classes. Council is advocating for two property classes for residential properties, and passed the following motion last night:

WHEREAS the Province of British Columbia through the BC Assessment Act –Prescribed Classes of Property Regulation B.C. Reg. 438/81 specifies that there is one assessment class for all types of residential properties and the Community Charter outlines that a municipal bylaw to establish the property value taxes each year under section 197 (3) specifies there is a single rate for each property class;

AND WHEREAS the assessed value of the multifamily strata units change at a different rate than single family residential properties;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Province of British Columbia amend the BC Assessment Act and the Community Charter to allow the residential class to be split into two distinct residential classes so that a different rate may be applied to each type of residential property to more equitably share the tax burden between the single family residential properties and the multifamily residential strata properties.

The motion will hopefully make its way to the UBCM Convention this fall where it could be endorsed by other municipalities, and forwarded to the province to consider.

Tomorrow, I will be posting about the other items that were addressed at last night’s council meeting.

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