Langley City council has delayed a decision on a draft financial plan that would increase overall municipal taxes by 4.35 per cent.
A majority supported the postponement, proposed by Councillor Paul Albrecht, to reschedule third reading of the financial plan from the Monday, Feb. 7 meeting to March 7.
“I thought it would be nice to take a little more time,” Albrecht told the Langley Advance Times following the meeting, “just pump the brakes a little.”
“Maybe we need to get a little more information from staff,” he added.
Taxes were originally set to rise 3.94 per cent, but after a majority of council voted in January to increase the proposed budget by $127,500, to fund an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position, the increase became 4.35 per cent.
At the time, councillors Rudy Storteboom and Gayle Martin voted against the increase.
Martin was doubtful the delay will mean a change.
“Not likely,” Martin commented after the meeting, “but I’m happy we’re going to take another look at it.”
Coun. Nathan Pachal and mayor Val van den Broek voted against the delay.
In his online blog Pachal said there is a need for an environmental sustainability coordinator, similar to what other municipalities have, because the “past year’s heat dome and flooding shows that the impacts of climate change are real and [are becoming] more intense.
The biggest factor driving the tax increase is rising police expenses, the result of a first-time union contract for RCMP officers that boosted the police budget by five per cent, including $1.3 million more for local detachment officers plus $187,000 more for regional policing units like the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Single family homes will bear the brunt of the tax increase because, under B.C. law, municipalities can only have one tax rate for all residential class properties, and the assessed value of single family homes increased 38 per cent while multi-family homes increased half as much at 19 per cent. Langley City has been campaigning for separate rates for years.
It will mean taxes on an average Langley City family detached home would rise about $349, while an average multiple unit residential assessment will go down $4.
In a letter to council, homeowner Gerard de Neve, said he “had to pinch myself a couple of times after I was reading about the property tax increase that will affect me this year. This is regarding the proposed property tax increases for a single family home of 9.96 per cent … I ask the council to reconsider and have the overall maximum property tax rate not increased over 3.94 %.
Homeowners Sean and Tanya Ploss wrote to say council was acting “unfairly” in passing on the impact of the RCMP wage increase.
“It’s the not homeowners who should have to pay the brunt of these deficits,” they said.
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