According to the City of Vancouver’s 2014 budget outlook, residents can expect another ‘modest’ annual property tax increase that aligns with inflation. In addition, user fees will go up by 1 per cent to also align with forecasted inflation.
The report notes that compensation in particular is a challenge for the 2014 budget. “The discrepancy between the growth in the City’s compensation costs and the rate of inflation presents a financial sustainability challenge.”
New bargaining agreements for its unionized employees will also exceed the current rate of general inflation, reaching to a level above the anticipated tax rate increase.
Wages and benefits are the City’s largest operating expense, accounting for 55 per cent of the expenses under that budget. The report warns the City’s business operations and drive productivity must change, otherwise service levels will not be sustainable in the long-term.
Higher expenses found in the City’s 2014 operational budget (totalling an increase of $41-43 million) include $12 million for increased wages and benefits, $11 million for increased utility costs, $9 million for increased fixed costs (e.g. fuel, leases), $3-5 million for enhanced services and programs, $3 million for the civic election scheduled for November 15, 2014, $2 million for the operational costs of introducing Vancouver Public Bike Share, and $1 million for increased city grants.
In 2013, the City ran on a budget of $1.148 million for its operational expenses (day-to-day operations, police, fire, street cleaning, Park Board, library, etc.) and another separate budget of $261 million for its capital expenses (building new facilities, road and bridge repairs, sewer upgrades, etc.).
Tables: City of Vancouver
Featured Image: Ken Stewart/Vancouver Public Space