Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Langley City Council receives public feedback on budget, delays vote until March 7th

Yesterday afternoon, Langley City Council hosted a Committee of the Whole meeting to allow Langley City residents to provide feedback on the proposed 2022-26 Financial Plan. Council received three letters, and no one provided input at the Committee of the Whole.

The main concern was the proposed property tax increase’s impact on detached homeowners. As I posted earlier, the most significant driver of this year’s property tax increase is RCMP contract policing costs of which the City has no control.

City Council has advocated to other municipalities and the province to create attached housing and detached housing property tax classes. The province only allows one tax class for all housing, which leads to wildly variable tax rates. For example, on average, attached homeowners will see a decrease, while detached homeowners will see a tax increase if the budget is approved this year.

We’ve been advocating for two residential tax classes during and before my time on Council. You can read more about this from a post I wrote in 2016 and 2019.

One of the proposed positions that Council included in the 2022-26 Financial Plan is an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator to help the City take action on climate change mitigation and adaption. This past year’s heat dome and flooding shows that the impacts of climate change are real and becoming more intense.

Councillors Martin and Storteboom opposed funding the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator this year due to this year’s overall property tax increase. Removing the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position would reduce the proposed overall tax increase from 4.35% to 3.94%. Councillor Martin noted that she would vote against the budget this year, while Council Storteboom stated that he would reluctantly support the budget. Councillor Albrecht proposed that Council hold off giving third reading to the 2022-26 Financial Plan until the March 7th Council meeting.

I questioned the need to hold off voting on third reading and asked if there was any new information that we would be receiving to help inform my vote on the 2022-26 Financial Plan. Initially, no one could answer the question. However, later a member of Council suggested that City staff could provide further information on how the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator would help Langley City meet its climate change goals.

In the end, Council voted to delay giving third reading to the 2022-26 Financial Plan with myself and the mayor opposed.

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