Langley City residents are being asked to fork over another 2.63 per cent in taxes for this year.
That will bring in an extra $557,140 for the City, money staff contend is needed to maintain current services and amenities as well as squirrel money away for upcoming costs.
That would translate to $61 for a home valued at $459,000 but only a $6 increase for a condo worth $210,000 because condo assessments declined this year.
The public can find out more about the budget at an open house Feb. 6 in the City hall foyer starting at 6:30 p.m. The documents are also on the City website.
New this year is a staff request for a 0.75 per cent infrastructure levy to help finance unglamourous things like water pipes, sewage works, roads and traffic lights.
Most of the subdivisions in the City were built in the second half of the 21st century and their underground infrastructure (namely water and sewer pipes) are coming to the end of their life spans, according to director of finance Darrin Leite.
With all that work required in the coming years, the City is facing an infrastructure shortfall in the millions, he told City council at Monday’s regular meeting.
“We are proposing a specific infrastructure levy of 0.75 per cent to replace aging infrastructure,” he said.
A lot of infrastructure has been funded in recent years by tax revenue from the casino but the City’s golden goose seems to be laying smaller eggs. Money from the Cascades Casino, typically about $6 million per year, has been decreasing.
“Casino proceeds are trending lower,” Leite said.
That’s due to increased online gaming.
The money, about $49 million since it opened, has allowed the City to become debt free. Leite explained that has saved the community a great deal of money. A project financed over 20 years at five per cent interest would basically double the cost of a project, he said.
Casino proceeds have also been used for the Council Enterprise Fund, a contingency fund spent at the discretion of mayor and council. Staff is recommending that the amount be changed from the annual $150,000 to a percentage of casino revenue so that it fluctuates as casino proceeds rise and fall.
The City is expecting a surplus of $560,000 and in the past has put any operating surpluses into capital reserve. This year staff is recommending that $210,000 of the surplus be put into a contingency fund for unexpected costs during the coming year and that the remaining go into capital reserves.
City costs will rise this year due to staff pay increases, including an extra $421,520 for RCMP costs and a $71,415 increase for the Fraser Valley Regional Library because more City residents are borrowing from other FVRL branches that outsiders using the City library.
The tax rates for business will rise about 4.25 per cent for commercial business and 4.2 per cent for light industrial business. The City tax ratios are 1:2.31 for commercial and 1:2.58 for light industrial (for each residential tax dollar collected, $2.31 are collected from commercial businesses and $2.58 from light industrial businesses.
The City’s goal is to have a ratio of 1:3 and has one of the lower ratios in the Lower Mainland.
The City financial plan is expected to go to third reading on Feb. 18 and final reading March 4. The public can provide feedback at the Feb. 18 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m.