There’s a good chance that our property taxes will go up next year as the municipality struggles to get a handle on rising costs and a budget that’s growing in leaps and bounds.
Municipal wages, which are tied to the Greater Vancouver Regional District, are going up after the recent City of Vancouver strike. Property tax revenues, as a result of the B.C. government’s decision to grandfather condo hotels in the Class 1/Class 6 debate, will probably go down.
But the biggest expense for the municipality is the rising cost of capital construction, largely due to the rising costs of materials and labour.
The library, once pegged at $5.7 million, is now $11 million and counting. The composting facility, once estimated at $6 million, is now $12 million.
The municipality is also on the hook to help build the $130 million athletes’ village and part of the $14 million medal plaza for the Olympics and Paralympics, as well as countless other projects big and small.
The wastewater treatment plant is also on the docket, at a projected cost of more than $30 million.
A planned addition to municipal hall was scrapped after the projected costs almost tripled what was in the budget. Now the municipality is on the hook for renovations that I don’t imagine will come cheap.
For some reason the municipality has also decided to build elaborate shelters for our recycling bins at Nesters that are nicer than anything in my home. That kind of craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap, and quite frankly looks out of place when contrasted against the propane tanks, electrical transformers and sheds surrounding the municipal works yard.
If and when the call comes down to raise property taxes next year, we’ll be reminded that council has kept property taxes pretty much frozen in recent years, with some adjustments for inflation, something few other municipalities have accomplished. We’ve already been told that’s because of shrewd budgeting by the municipality, although some credit should probably go to the growing number of multi-million dollar homes and condos chipping into the coffers. Those revenues allow us to dream bigger and do more than other towns our size.
We now have a greater share of the hotel tax, thanks to the province finally delivering the financial tools we were promised when we signed on to co-host the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but a projected $6 million a year won’t dig us out of the hole we’re digging for ourselves anytime soon. That money is already spent for the next five years.