Property taxes in Langley Township will increase by 2.47 per cent, as the council voted on the 2018 budget at Monday night’s meeting.
The tax increase comes from a “base” increase of 1.95 per cent that covers cost increases and inflation in the Township. The remaining increase is to go towards hiring four new RCMP officers, increasing hours at recreation facilities, including in Brookswood, staff for the Langley Regional Airport, and funding for the Gateway of Hope homeless shelter.
Councillor Kim Richter attempted to convince council to delay the budget, then to cut the tax rate.
Delegates from the Willoughby Residents Association earlier in the evening had asked council to improve walkability by finishing the many sidewalks and paths that dead-end in the neighbourhood.
Richter wanted to defer the budget for a week to see if the walkability improvements could be included in the final version.
Township aministrator Mark Bakken said that delaying the budget could hold up several million dollars in other projects, and that sidewalk upgrades might be funded without changing the budget, either from reserves or by shuffling the priority of projects.
Mayor Froese opposed “shotgun style budgeting,” and debate moved on.
Richter then asked council to cut the tax rate to the base 1.95 per cent increase.
Other councillors disagreed.
Coun. Bob Long argued that it was necessary to continue putting aside funds for future infrastructure, and for policing costs.
Homelessness support and recreation facilities were needed as well, said Coun. Blair Whitmarsh.
Coun. Angie Quaale said the difference between the 1.95 per cent and 2.47 per cent rates amounted to about $1 per household per month.
The higher amount means four more Mounties along with a number of other upgrades, she said.
“I would be happy to write that cheque,” Quaale said.
In the end, the council voted eight to one to approve the budget, with Richter the only councillor in opposition.
A final vote on the budget will be held at a future meeting.