Friday, March 8, 2013

 

City Hall News

Budget Buzz

Property tax Increase to pay for new cop, library and better bus service

Staff/Voice photos

 

This pie chart was one of the slides shown in the 2013 budget presentation Tuesday and lays out where your tax dollars go.

 

public information meeting is slated for Tuesday, March 19th at 7 P.M. The following are the complete transcripts of the budget presentation from Kathleen Fraser, Director of Finance for the City of Chilliwack at the last city council meeting.

This financial plan is consistent with council's goals and measures.

Our financial plan allows us to reinvest infrastructure and improve service levels, to fund projects without debt, to continue to maintain low taxation levels and provide services to the public in an efficient and cost-effectively manner.

For 2013, the property tax increase will be 3.44 per cent, or $51 for the average home. This is the same increase identified in last year's 5 year plan and it provides some funds for maintenance and service improvements while continuing to allow Chilliwack to have the lowest tax rate compared to our neighbours.

2 per cent of this increase is needed to cover inflationary increases. The main one is our negotiated wage contract, but we're also seeing inflationary pressures in our service contracts and general supplies.

Another 1 per cent is needed to cover the 2013 operating costs at the new Sardis Library. This new facility opens in early May and will be a great addition to the community. Since the facility is opening part way through the year, costs for 2013 are pro-rated for this part year and amount to $640,000.00.

Total annual operating costs for the facility are anticipated to be $1,000,027.00 beginning in 2014.

The remainder of the increase cover a number of items, one of them being additional staff for the RCMP. We're adding one new member and one new administrative support position.

There's some additional funds for public works to increase maintenance in the city, plus make some improvements in the downtown core such as sidewalk repairs and there's some money for transit improvements.

Currently, our staff are working with BC Transit on extending the service on route No. 1, which is the Vedder corridor from three evenings a week to seven evenings a week, plus they are looking at special seniors services to replace the lost neighbourhood service.

This, with respect to a regional transit service, staff also continue to work with our partners; the regional district FVRD and BC Transit, and hope to implement this in 2014.

 

This is the distribution of property taxes ( see photo). Police and fire make up 40 per cent of the pie, and library services with the new library have increased from 4 to 5 per cent with the new library opening in Sardis in May.

Chilliwack continues to have lower per capita spending levels when compared to other nearby communities. This is just a comparison (see graph photo) of Chilliwack costs compared to those of Abbotsford, Langley, Maple Ridge in the areas of general government. protective services which are police and fire, Transportation and Parks, Recreation and Culture.

Taxes on a Chilliwack home continues to be very low compared to a similar home in other municipalities. Currently, the property taxes on an average home in Chilliwack are 33 per cent less than the average taxes in neighbouring municipalities.

However when measuring total taxes, Chilliwack is the lowest. This measure includes property taxes plus other items such as water, sewer, curbside collection and regional district taxes and the province is the one who actually prepares these statistics in such a way to make the data equivalent so that the public can make accurate comparisons.

Then in strictly a dollar format, compared to Chilliwack, the cost of a home in the property taxes, it's $173 more in Langley, and up to $477 more in Abbotsford and when you include all the other charges such as utilities. It goes up to $767 for a similar home in Langley and $894 more for a similar home in Abbotsford.

Chilliwack also continues to to have the lowest business class multiples.

In summary, our property tax increase for this year is 3.44 per cent or $51 for the average home.

Our plan allows us to reinvest in infrastructure and improve service levels, fund projects without debt and continue to maintain low taxation levels.

A public information meeting has been called for the next regular council session on Tuesday March 19th at 7 P.M.

For more information, visit www.chilliwack.com/budget or send questions to staff via e-mail here.

Questions can also be sent in by mail to: Mayor and Council, 8550 Young Rd.. Chilliwack BC V2P 8A4 or by phone 604-793-1823

 

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