City of Vancouver proposes property tax increase of 5% in 2021

Nov 24 2020, 12:48 pm

After receiving Vancouver City Council’s initial input on budget directions early this month, City of Vancouver staff have released their draft 2021 budget supported by a 5% increase in the property tax for the year.

This also accounts for a city council-directed tax shift of 0.5% property tax share from non-residential (such as business properties) to residential.

Based on median property values for each property type, the 5% increase amounts to an average $146 increase for a single-family home assessed at $1.6 million, $64 increase for a condominium assessed at $688,000, $166 for a business property assessed at $1 million, and $104 for a residential property overall assessed at $1.1 million.

The proposed operating budget for 2021 is $1.599 billion, which is $17.1 million (1.1%) less than the year’s original budget.

The increases and adjusted impacts account for the expectation that there will be continued severe impacts from COVID-19. The provincial government provided municipal governments across BC with the ability to run budgetary deficits in 2020, but they are required to provide balance budgets by the end of 2021.

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City of Vancouver draft 2021 budget. (City of Vancouver)

For Vancouver, delays with many capital projects in 2020 will now be transplanted into 2021 for completion, increasing the expected capital expenditures in 2021. But overall, as previously approved by the city council, the four-year capital plan between 2019 and 2022 has been reduced by $254 million to $2.6 billion.

In 2021, capital expenditures are budgeted to be over $770 million, such as new transportation and utility infrastructure, new fire halls, affordable housing, childcare, community centres, and public amenities, including initiatives under the Vancouver Park Board.

Next year’s capital plan also includes components of last week’s approved Climate Action Emergency Plan, with the draft budget noting capital plan items for Metro Core mobility pricing development, citywide residential parking permit program, bus transit priority improvements, active transportation such as cycling and walking infrastructure, eliminating parking minimums, curbside electric-battery vehicle charging, and various green building initiatives.

By 2021, property taxes will account for 59% of the city’s operating revenues, followed by 21% from utility fees, 5% from license and development fees, 4% from parking, and 4% from cost recoveries, grants, and donations.

With the tax hike, property tax revenues are budgeted to total $942 million, up by $51.57 million. Program revenues will fall by 39% to $40.1 million, while parking revenues will drop by 17% to $64 million, and bylaw fine revenues will decrease by 19% to $17.6 million.

The largest 2021 operating expenses are 24% for utilities, 21% for the Vancouver Police Department, 9% for Vancouver Fire Rescue, 8% for each of the Vancouver Park Board, corporate support, debt and capital, and 7% for engineering.

The police budget will increase by $2.5 million or 0.7% to $340.6 million..

City council will consider the draft 2021 budget in a public meeting on December 1.

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City of Vancouver draft 2021 budget. (City of Vancouver)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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