Langley City Council has been meeting via videoconference, including the Monday meeting that gave preliminary approval to tax rollbacks. (City of Langley website)

Langley City council gives preliminary approval to tax cuts

Rollback in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Citing the COVID-19 crisis, Langley City is rolling back property taxes, chopping homeowner rates from just under seven per cent to just under two.

A statement issued Monday April 27th said City council “has heard from our community and recognizes the current economic challenges for our residents, property and business owners due to the rapidly changing environment of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

An amended 2020-2024 financial plan was given preliminary approval by unanimous vote of council at their Monday afternoon (April 27th) meeting, which was held by videoconference.

It is expected to come back to council for third reading and final approval on May 11th.

As approved by council, the overall property tax increase of 6.67 per cent has been adjusted to 1.83 per cent, and business class properties and light industrial class properties have been modified from seven per cent to average increases of 2.01 per cent and 2.14 per cent, respectively.

READ ALSO: Proposed 6.67% tax increase to be considered at Langley City council meeting

As well, the province has reduced the school tax portion of the property tax bill for the Business Class, Light Industrial and Non-Profit Class properties further reducing the overall tax increase for these property types.

Cost-cutting measured include deferring the borrowing of $10 million in 2020 as part of the Nexus of Community Plan to 2021, which will eliminate debt servicing costs of $827,665; postponing several new staffing positions, a reduction of $120,855; and reducing the contribution to the Capital Works Reserve for infrastructure renewal from $100,000 to $50,000, a reduction of $50,000 or 0.17 per cent.

It follows similar reductions announced by the Township council last month, which approved a reduced tax increase of two per cent across the board, roughly half what had been proposed.

READ MORE: Langley Township property tax increase drops by half in face of COVID-19

City Mayor Val van den Broek said the current pandemic “has presented new and unique challenges for all of us, our Council has worked hard to take measures to provide immediate relief to our residents, businesses, and community partners as we get through this difficult time.”

“Like all municipalities, the City’s operations, services, and revenues have been impacted by COVID-19. Although we are unable to determine the long-term financial impact of the crisis, due to sound financial management policies, the City will continue to provide essential services for our residents.”

Municipal governments are required under the Provincial Community Charter to adopt a balanced budget and cannot use debt to pay for operating expenditures like the provincial and federal governments. Property taxes are collected halfway through the year and provide the City with the cash flow to ensure the City can provide essential services such as water, sewer, roads, fire and police. As well, the City has to pay other taxing authorities like TransLink, Metro Vancouver and the BC Assessment Authority on time. Therefore, City Council will maintain the July 2, 2020 property tax payment deadline.

It has made changes to the property tax penalty for residential property owners.

Previously five per cent after the July 2 tax due date and a further five per cent after August 2, the penalty will be reduced to two per cent after the July 2 tax due date, and the second penalty date will be extended to October 1 at eight per cent.

The province has mandated that the business, light industrial and non-profit classed properties will have one penalty date of October 1 at 10%.

“Langley City Council believes that the reduction in the property tax rate will help ease the financial burden for all taxpayers in the community during the current challenging and unprecedented time,” the City pres release said.

“We will endeavour to work tirelessly with senior levels of government and all sectors of our community for a fast economic recovery.”

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