Saying the city has taken a “prudent approach” to funding key priorities, Vancouver City Manager Sadhu Johnston has laid out the reasoning behind a proposed 4.9% property tax increase in 2019.
In a budget report being presented to city council this week, Johnston writes that the proposed increase “reflects an increase in line with inflation (2.2%), the property tax impact of the provincial government’s new Employer Health Tax (1.7%), and the additional investments in infrastructure renewal approved in the 2019-2022 Capital Plan (1%).”
Johnston notes that “when we set out to develop the city’s budget for the following year, we face the challenge of maintaining core services at the level our residents and businesses expect, while at the same time making the right investments for the future to ensure we can respond to the pressures and opportunities of a growing city.”
Johnston adds that in 2018, the city took “significant steps” on one of the key issues in the city: affordable housing. “The first year of the Empty Homes Tax helped identify more homes that could be rentals for those who live and work in Vancouver, and the revenue collected from the tax is supporting affordable housing initiatives,” he writes.
Looking towards the new year, Johnston writes that the city has identified key priorities for the 2019 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan. These include:
- Increase housing supply and affordability, and improve availability and supports for renters and vulnerable citizens.
- Maintaining and improving operations and service levels.
- Investing in public safety.
- Continuing to build vibrant communities and public spaces that support arts, culture and the environment.
- Meeting commitments to provide safe and healthy workplaces and public spaces.
The report notes that property taxes in recent years have increased modestly — ranging from 1.4% to 4.3% per year — in line with most other Metro Vancouver municipalities.”
The latest increase, if approved, would equal $108 a year for the average homeowner, $193 a year for the average business property owner, and $41 for the average strata owner.
Overall, the city’s proposed operating budget for 2019 is $1.516 billion, which is an increase of 7.8%, or $109.4 million over the operating budget for 2018.
This increase, the report said, “reflects changes in revenues and expenses in a number of areas in response to the needs of a growing city.”
The report will be presented to Vancouver city councillors on Tuesday morning.
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