Tax increases enhance public safety

The unexpected cost of a pay increase for RCMP officers will mean a further burden of $50,000 on Township taxpayers.

The unexpected cost of a pay increase for RCMP officers, contained in the new RCMP contract municipalities are signing, will mean a further burden of $50,000 on Township taxpayers.

On top of that, ratepayers will foot the bill for the hiring of another police officer, and on Monday, as council approved the budget for this year, Mayor Jack Froese defended the expenses.

“We are growing 2,000 people a year,” he said in support of the hiring.

The cost has minimal impact on the budget “and I would hate to have it removed,” Froese said.

The hit may not be as severe as it sounds. Councillor Charlie Fox pointed out that when an officer leaves the detachment, the position is not always immediately filled, and therefore the salary is saved.

The discussion came as council considered first, second and third reading of the five-year financial plan, which includes this year’s budget.

The budget boosts taxes by 2.95 per cent and, Froese said, places heavy emphasis on enhancing public safety by allocating money for the extra officer and converting Murrayville Fire Hall to a facility that is staffed around the clock.

“The public has made it clear that this is a matter that is very important to them,” he said.

Of the 2.95 per cent, 1.75 is to cover additional expenses, 0.5 per cent for the additional officer, and 0.7 per cent to add eight full-time firefighters. This latter element is to meet a WorkSafe BC requirement that no fewer than four firefighters can be deployed to a structure fire.

The impact of the budget on the owners of a single family home with an averaged assessed value of $483,000 will be $105 more, to $2,543, and includes levies for water, sewer, garbage and recycling services.

For the owners of a house with the same value but not receiving these services, taxes will rise by $43, bringing the total municipal tax bill to $1,490. Levies for other agencies, such as the Langley School District and TransLink, will push that total higher.

The bylaw’s first three readings passed without opposition. Council will consider final reading on April 23.