Councillors set to vote on property tax hike

Langley Township is looking at 2.59 per cent tax increase this year, but there will also be increases in sewer, garbage pickup, and water bills.

The Township is preparing to vote on its five-year financial plan next week, and on Monday council voted in favour of a budget that would increase property taxes by $40 per year for a home valued at $498,000, the average in Langley.

The tax increase breaks down with 1.32 per cent covering general inflation, 0.1 per cent for the future Aldergrove community center, ice rink, and pool planned for the former elementary school site, 0.39 per cent to replace fire trucks and Township vehicles, and 0.78 per cent for an infrastructure levy.

The infrastructure levy started last year, and is intended to create a long-term fund that the Township will be able to use to rebuild and replace old roads, buildings, and park equipment without having to hike taxes suddenly in any given year.

The Township started the fund after staff warned that it could be facing larger bills in the future as major replacement projects approached.

The fee increases will be a larger cost than the increase in property taxes.

For residents who are recipients of garbage pickup, and have sewer and water hookups, the increase will be $43 per year on average.

Property tax rates are always calculated based on the value of a property, with owners of more expensive land paying more and owners of less expensive properties paying less tax.

The value of land is based on the valuation given by B.C. Assessments.

The tax increase is the lowest in some years, a fact that Mayor Jack Froese emphasized in a statement this week.

“With a nominal 2.59 per cent increase, we are still funding the important projects and services required to provide the quality of life they have come to expect,” Froese said. “We are really pleased with what has been achieved.”

The Township is projecting tax increases of about 2.95 per cent over the next four years, along with similar increases in solid waste and sewer costs. The cost of municipal water is projected to fluctuate, with increases ranging from 6.18 per cent projected for 2015, to as low as 3.69 per cent in 2016 and 2018.

Tax increases have veered wildly up and down over the past two decades in Langley Township.

Under Mayor John Scholtens in the late 1990s, there were several years of zero increases in taxes. That continued into the early 2000s under Mayor Kurt Alberts, but taxes started to rise slowly in 2003 with a one per cent increase.

By the mid-2000s, tax increases were ranging from around three to five per cent annually. Much of the increase in the latter half of the decade was driven by the Township’s move to create a full-time paid firefighting department, replacing the force of paid on-call firefighters at several halls.

As that program has wound down, the Township has been reducing taxes to under three per cent per year.

Last year’s tax increase was 2.79 per cent, and the 2012 increase was 2.95 per cent.

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