A proposed budget that would raise Langley City residential taxes 10 to 12 per cent was given third reading by council on Monday, Feb. 27.
Coun. Delaney Mack voted against the budget, calling it a “substantial increase” at a time when taxpayers were under financial pressure.
She was the only vote against, with the rest of council defending the budget as a necessary investment in City infrastructure and services.
READ ALSO: Langley City Council urged to ‘smooth out’ tax increases
Coun. Paul Albrecht estimated the average impact was “in the neighbourhood of a dollar a day.”
Coun. Leith White said “we have pressing realities that we as community can no longer defer.”
Coun. Teri James said “there wasn’t a thing [in the budget] that I thought this community did not need.”
Coun. Rosemary Wallace said the City hasn’t “invested enough in our infrastructure and especially our social infrastructure.”
Mayor Nathan Pachal said B.C. municipalities like the City, with aging water and sewer lines, need to start investing in infrastructure “in a big way.”
“We’re investing in people and our business community,” Pachal commented.
Coun. Mike Solyom was not present.
The budget is tentatively scheduled to return to council for final approval on next Monday, March 6.
At a council meeting to hear from the public on Feb. 13, the City was urged to use its share of a just-announced $1 billion provincial program of grants for municipalities and regional districts to reduce the tax hit.
Resident Scott Thompson called it an “excellent opportunity” to give taxpayers a break.
READ ALSO: Province pledges one-time grants totalling $1B for B.C. cities, regional districts
In response to a question by Coun. Mack, City director of corporate services Darrin Leite cautioned the benefits from any kind of one-time grant would be temporary.
“You’ll have that same tax increase next year,” Leite explained.
Another speaker, Lorne West, said he supported the tax hike, warning that prioritizing low taxes over a livable community was the wrong path, citing the destruction of Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood as an example.
“I want to pay my fair share of taxes to be in a livable community” said West.
Cory Redekop, Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce CEO, said while the City budget seemed “thoughtful and reasoned,” businesses were struggling with a cumulative tax burden imposed by various levels of government, describing it as “sticker shock.”
Redekop suggested the City should delay some projects to “smooth out that financial hit” from such a tax increase.
A staff report showed City residents have been paying some of the lowest taxes in the region, with figures for 2022 estimating the average tax payment for a single family dwelling at $2,498. That was the second lowest in the region, just above Langley Township ($2,379).
Both municipalities were below the Lower Mainland average of $3,183.
Langley City levied the lowest average rate for strata family dwellings in Metro Vancouver at $1,007, well below the regional average of $1,401.
Langley Township ranked fourth at $1,227.
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