Putting more buses on the road will take cash TransLink doesn't have

Two-year property tax hike for TransLink scrapped

Automatic three per cent annual increase still proceeding

TransLink won’t add a temporary property tax increase of $23 per average home that had previously been approved and was to remain in place for this year and next year.

Area mayors had okayed the time-limited tax hike in 2011 as a backup measure in case new funding sources from the province didn’t materialize, although they fully expected Victoria would deliver.

When that didn’t happen, mayors last year indicated by a non-binding vote they wanted to scrap the tax hike, which would have generated an extra $60 million in property tax over 2013 and 2014.

TransLink initially warned last summer removal of the tax could trigger deep service cuts or project cancellations, because it was already struggling with revenue shortfalls, notably a drop in fuel tax collected.

Mayors countered late in the fall, vowing to axe the tax increase and blame the province for any service cuts that ensued if it refused to grant a new revenue source by February.

None was forthcoming but TransLink’s board has now agreed to remove the increase, saying enough offsetting money has now been saved through cost cutting.

Mayors in Langley, Surrey and White Rock had previously opposed eliminating the property tax hike, fearing that might torpedo the new Highway 1 express bus over the Port Mann Bridge and King George Boulevard B-Line.

Those projects are proceeding, but it will take more money than TransLink now has to fully implement them as originally proposed – higher frequency on the Highway 1 express bus and extending the King George B-line to White Rock.

There’s no money in the budget for other improvements proposed in 2012, including a broader bus service expansion and extending SeaBus service on Sundays and holidays.

The regional Mayors’ Council is expected to pass a TransLink-prepared supplemental plan to formally rescind the temporary property tax hike by May 1.

Metro Vancouver’s board endorsed the new plan last Friday.

Mayors continue to demand new cash sources for TransLink, including a regional sales tax of up to 0.5 per cent, an annual vehicle levy or a share of B.C.’s carbon tax, plus longer-term implementation of comprehensive road tolls.

Despite the latest decision, TransLink’s regular annual property tax increase is still proceeding.

Provincial law allows the transportation authority to raise its total property taxes, which have gradually climbed to almost $300 million, by three per cent each year without the mayors’ approval.

An owner of a home assessed at the regional average of $712,000 paid more than $230 to TransLink in 2012, while a business assessed at $2 million paid more than $3,000.

The bills for each property tend to go up by one to two per cent a year, not the full three per cent, because some growth in TransLink property tax comes from new construction.

Just Posted

CD featuring Maple Ridge artists to raise money for new sound system

The Kanaka Creek open mic has been held every week for the past eight years

Ridge Meadows Minor Softball recognized

Top large association in the province says Softball BC

UPDATE: Rescue teams scale back search for missing woman

Maple Ridge squad joined effort in Coquitlam’s Westwood plateau area.

Parents rally to support LGBT education in Abbotsford schools

Small demonstration held in the rain to counter anti-SOGI rhetoric

Union contests layoffs at Maple Ridge motel

Demonstration planned for today at former Quality Inn

Friendship benches donated to two Maple Ridge schools

Benches promote empathy, friendship and self esteem at school

5 to start your day

Anti-SOGI Chilliwack trustee doubles down, Langley woman will get lifesaving drug and more

Mounties appeal for public’s help after Whistler stabbing

24-year-old man was stabbed in the stomach

Opioid prescriptions up across Canada: report

The report shows the number of opioid prescriptions rose by almost seven per cent, while daily doses on average dropped

Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci warns that Russian meddling has implications for Canada

Health Canada hints at government’s plans for legal pot

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regulations

Washington governor tells BC don’t be ‘daunted’ by Trump

“I want to assure this assembly that no matter who is in the White House, it won’t affect Washington state’s relationship with Canada or British Columbia.”

Liberals look to ease concerns with housing strategy

Liberals say they look to ease affordability concerns with release of their housing strategy

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Most Read