Tuesday, February 11, 2020

February 10 Council Meeting: Feedback received on 2020-2024 Financial Plan

At the start of last night’s Langley City council meeting, people had the opportunity to provide direct feedback to council about the proposed 2020-2024 Financial Plan. People were also able to send a letter or email to council as well as attend an open house which was held last week. More information on the financial plan is available in previous posts I wrote.

Council received seven emails about the financial plan. About eight people attended the council meeting specifically for the financial plan, with three of those people talking directly to council.

All 10 people who provided submissions to council were opposed to the financial plan and proposed borrowing of $50 million to investing into our community.

Generally, the people who provided direct feedback were asking council to cut the budget which would result in cuts to services. It is important to review all services and spending in our municipality. Senior City staff and council did go through a thorough review of the budget this year.

Some people noted that the proposed residential tax increase would be six percent or higher. The average residential tax increase is proposed to be 5.6%

Langley City recently commissioned a community survey, and there was a strong desire from the majority of residents for continued investment into our community.

Balancing Taxation and Service Delivery Levels from 2019 Langley City Community Survey. Select image to enlarge.

For a list of specific investments that people would like to see, please read a previous blog post on the topic.

One speaker at the meeting did ask council to consider setting up a development corporation if we moved forward with strategic property investment to support the SkyTrain extension to our community. Langley City does have the Langley City Development Corporation which could be used for such a purpose.

One of the overall themes was the impact of property tax on people with fixed incomes. My mom owns an apartment in Kelowna, so this is something that has a direct impact in my family. Because of the rapid increase in the value of property, most people who own land are “house rich.”

To help people who are on a fixed income, the provincial government offers a property tax deferral program. This allows people on fixed incomes to defer paying property tax until they sell their property.

Later during the meeting, council unanimously approved third reading of the 2020-2024 Financial Plan bylaw.

Because City council is considering borrowing $50 million over the next five years to support investing into our community, we must go through an Alternative Approval Process per provincial law. There will be further opportunity to have a direct say on this proposed borrowing. I will provide more information about this process as it becomes available.

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