Langley Township residents may see a 2.79 per cent increase on their property taxes this year, as the council prepares for its debates on the budget.
"We're shooting for 1.79 per cent in operations," said Mayor Jack Froese.
The additional one per cent is for an infrastructure levy. The money will be put aside specifically for upgrading, building, and repairing roads and facilities around the Township.
Overall, Froese said the Township was controlling its operational costs.
"It's lower than last year, I think I'm pretty happy with that," he said.
A similar increase was forecast for 2014 in the Township's five-year financial plan, but Froese said he hopes that will be reduced further.
There are a number of drivers for this year's budget, including upcoming contracts, still in negotiation with the CUPE workers and full-time firefighters.
Last year, funding for expansion of the firefighting service meant that part of the infrastructure funding was put aside, but it's back this year, Froese said.
Putting aside the money for infrastructure was the practice in the past in the Township, Froese said, but it fell by the wayside for several years.
The rapid population growth in the Township is bringing in more revenues, about two per cent per year, Froese said.
"We'd be looking at 3.8 [per cent increase] without that growth," he said.
But the growth also comes with new costs, including roads and policing.
"It doesn't bring in windfalls," said Froese.
Froese said he and the council would like to keep the rate of increase down farther next year.
As for keeping the costs below the level of inflation, he said that inflation is one of the drivers of costs.
"With municipal financing, we don't deal with the normal inflationary trends that a household would," he said.
The cost of asphalt for roads and concrete pipes for sewer and waters has a much greater impact on a municipal budget than the cost of food, for example.
Some of those costs have finally been coming down.
"We are seeing a downward trend, and we're hoping that will continue," Froese said.
Now the Township is waiting to hear from the public before it begins its series of budget deliberations in March.
There will be a public open house Monday, Feb. 25, from 18 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Township Civic Facility at 20338 65th Ave.
Visit www.tol.ca/budget to try out the budget calculator and read a breakdown of where tax and utility money is going.
Tax increases have bounced up and down sharply over the years in the Township.
Between 1996 and 2002, there was only one general tax increase in the Township.
By the early 2000s, staff began recommending increases, as the Township's reserves were being eaten into by building projects.
Increases were generally around one to three per cent for a few years.
Then in the mid and late 2000s, the Township began switching to a full-time firefighting department, which drove tax increases up to around five per cent per year over several years, as each new hall switched from paid on-call.
The expansion of the firefighting service is now complete.
@ Copyright 2013