Langley City hall (City of Langley image)

Langley City hall (City of Langley image)

Langley City financial plan scales back SkyTrain preparations

Average homeowner taxes would go up by $154

Taxes and utility fees paid by an average single family home in Langley City will go up 4.74 per cent or $154, under a proposed 2021 financial plan that would scale back planned land purchases to prepare for the arrival of SkyTrain service.

Council gave preliminary approval to the plan Monday, Jan. 25.

A Jan. 18 report, by City director of corporate services Darrin Leite, said the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “has caused us to pause and reprioritize how we move forward during a world-wide pandemic.”

“Even with supports from senior levels of government for the municipality, businesses and individual taxpayers, there is still much uncertainty about how 2021 will unfold,” Leite commented.

READ ALSO: Langley’s Cascades Casino to remain closed for the foreseeable future

Among other things, Leite anticipates the currently closed Cascades casino will remain shuttered throughout 2021 and the City will not receive any casino revenues as a result.

It’s estimated that the City share of casino revenue, around $6 million a year, has kept taxes 2.5 per cent lower than they would have been without the gaming revenue.

However, because the City has reserved some of the previously received casino proceeds, some projects can still move ahead, Leite reported, but a planned engineering operation centre building is on hold.

In light of the provincial government promise during the B.C. election to bring SkyTrain to Langley City, Leite said the municipality needs to prepare for its arrival, through the Nexus plan that includes changes to the Official Community Plan, zoning bylaw updates and the Nicomekl River District neighbourhood plan.

READ MORE: A $50-million plan is proposed to prepare for rapid transit in Langley City

Originally, Nexus proposed borrowing $50 million, money that, among other things, would be used for land acquisition to prepare for when SkyTrain arrives.

In the 2021 plan, staff are asking council to consider borrowing $7.5 million, rather than the full $50 million, in order to make what Leite described as “vital” purchases.

“We believe this is a balanced approach to moving forward,” Leite said.

Including utility rate increases, City staff estimate the financial impact on an average single family home (assessed at $878,050) would be an increase of 4.74 per cent or $154, and an average multi-family home (assessed at $415,074) would see an increase of 5.67 per cent or $90.

Business class properties would see an average increase of 3.85 per cent and light industrial properties a 5.05 per cent increase.

“This rate maintains a competitive ratio between residential and business class properties, ensuring the Langley City remains an attractive municipality to locate a business,” the Leite report remarked.

An virtual open house on the plan has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb 4, at 7 p.m. using Zoom videoconferencing.

Those interested in taking part can register on the Langley City website.

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