Vancouver city council postpones vote on 8.2% property tax increase

Dec 10 2019, 5:38 pm

After City of Vancouver staff proposed an 8.2% property tax increase in 2020, city council has postponed a vote on the decision until next Tuesday, December 17.

Council discussed the proposed hike during its regularly scheduled meeting today, but ultimately decided to push a debate and decision until next week.

Should council approve all of the items in the draft budget, the total tax increase for 2020 would amount to an additional $150 for the median residential property (roughly $12 per month) and $270 for the median business property.

These figures amount to an 8.2% property tax increase.

During Tuesday’s meeting, councillor Lisa Dominato introduced a motion to look at options for a revised budget with increases of 5%, 6%, or 7%.

In a statement, the city said the draft operating budget is structured in three categories of funding for council to consider:

  • Fixed costs
    • Funding required to maintain city services at present levels. E.g. estimated impacts of future collective agreements and increases in rent, insurance, etc.
  • Filling service gaps and addressing risks
    • This includes the addition of more police officers and firefighters, improvements to the building permitting process, and addressing compliance-related items.
  • Investments to advance council’s priorities
    • These investments include initiatives such as more affordable and social housing, investments in arts and culture, addressing the climate emergency, and a new city-wide planning process.

In developing the draft budget, city staff “worked to align ongoing activities and new initiatives” to a set of priorities that were approved by council in July, as part of the Budget Outlook.

The city said priorities include:

  • Deliver quality, core services that meet residents’ needs
  • Address affordability and the housing crisis
  • Protect and build our economy
  • Increase focus on diversity and critical social issues
  • Accelerate action on climate change

The final property taxes and fees for 2020 will be set once a final budget is approved by council.

The proposed budget comes after the release of a city staff report in July of this year, which noted 202 property taxes could increase as much as 10%, to help cover the costs of city council motions that have been put forward “over the past months, some of which will have budget implications over the next few years.”

The Draft 2020 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan is available to the public now on the city’s website, along with a nine-page summary.

Last year, city council approved a 4.5% property tax increase, as part of the city’s $1.513 million operating budget for 2019 and a $365.8 million capital budget for new projects in 2019.