Langley City hall will host an open house on a proposed $62 million budget that would increase overall taxes and utility fees by 6.98 per cent this year. File

Langley City residents face 6.98 per cent hike in taxes and utility fees

New provincial payroll tax and Canada Pension Plan changes contributed to increase, report says

In Langley City, an average single family home will pay $58 more in property taxes this year while townhouse and condominium owners will pay $164 more under a proposed financial plan that would increase overall taxes by 6.98 per cent, including utility rate increases.

Council gave preliminary approval to a 2019 budget Monday night that would fund $51.8 million in operating expenses and $10.1 million in capital expenditures.

A report to council by Director of Corporate Services Darrin Leite said the increase for multi-family units was higher because the assessed value went up 18 per cent more than single-family dwellings, and provincial law requires the same tax rate to be applied to both types of dwellings.

It was the second year in a row that the increase for multi-family dwellings has risen more than single family houses.

Averaged out over 10 years, the increases for different types of housing are similar, Leite said, with single family homes going up 2.9 per cent annually compared to multi-family homes, which have gone up 2.6 per cent.

Business class properties will go up 7 per cent and light industrial taxes will rise 7.01 per cent.

READ MORE: City renews battle over variable residential tax rate

Money from a revenue-sharing agreement with the Cascades Casino will pay for improvements to Brydon Park and Nicholas Park, as well as 203 Street between Fraser Highway and Logan Avenue, Douglas Crescent between 206 and 203 Streets, along with road repairs and street light replacements.

Leite estimates the amount of money the City receives from the casino will rise to $7.2 million this year, up from $400,00 from the previous year.

Using the casino proceeds has helped to keep the City’s tax rates lower by 1.23 per cent, an explanatory note attched to the budget bylaw said.

READ MORE: Langley Township council tackles budget

“One of the biggest priorities in 2019 is to address some concerns around homelessness and public safety,” the Leite report said.

An additional bylaw enforcement officer is included in the budget, along with funds to “deal with the increasing costs incurred to clean up vandalism attributed to homeless activities in parks and public spaces and wire theft from street lights.”

READ MORE: Wire theft moves underground in Langley City

Plans call for hiring a community outreach facilitator who will work with aging populations, new immigrants and refugees, people living in isolation, and the homeless.

Three additional firefighters are being added to increase fire prevention inspections, handle daytime emergency response when paid on call firefighters are not available, and reduce overtime hours.

A planning assistant will be added to help process the increase in development applications “allowing other staff time to implement the recommendations coming from the Nexus of Community vision plan” which aims to restructure the downtown to best take advantage of the coming rapid transit connection to Surrey.

Plans call for a pedestrian bridge over Baldi Creek, more parks maintenance hours and enhanced boulevard tree maintenance.

Most of the tax bill goes to pay water and sewer, followed by police and fire.

Leite prepared a breakdown that shows an average single family home tax bill of $263 a month contributes $75 to water and sewer, $59 for policing, $25 for fire, $22 for general government expenses, $19 for recreation, $16 for garbage and green waste, $12 for infrastructure and $10 for parks.

A new cost for the City in 2019 will be the provincial government’s new 1.95 per cent payroll health tax and an increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions which Leite estimates will cost the City an extra $236,000, which makes up 0.8 per cent of the overall taxation increase.

There will be a public open house on the budget on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at City hall in the foyer in front of the finance department from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with staff available to answer questions.

The budget will come back to council for third reading on Monday, Feb. 25 with final reading and approval set for March 11.

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