Maple Ridge council is looking at a preliminary tax increase of 4.25 per cent in 2021, or an additional $140 for the average home.
The tax hike would see the average property’s tax bill rise from $3,291 in 2020 to $3,431 next year.
Council looked at guidelines for business planning for the years 2021 to 2025 at its July 28 meeting.
“We’ve had some pretty robust discussions on how we spend public money, and to make sure we get good value and good service from it” said Mayor Mike Morden.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it a challenging time. “We’ve seen a lot of curveballs come at us, that are somewhat out of our control, and some are in our control.”
The numbers are still preliminary. Coun. Gordy Robson predicted council would be confronted with a six per cent tax increase at budget time.
Staff will provide a list of budget options during business planning in November, a “pick list,” which could offer both spending increases and reductions in spending.
“We’re always finding new, worthwhile things we can spend taxes on,” said Robson.
However, he said with council increasing the amount it charges developers to build, through development cost charges (DCCs) and community amenity contributions (CACs), the city should be able to hold the line on tax increases with this “influx of capital.”
Coun. Ahmed Yousef noted the funds collected for CACs will be as high as $8 million.
He said he would like to see tax relief in 2021 due to COVID-19 creating hardships.
“2020 has been a rough year for everyone,” Yousef said.
Staff reported approximately 2.5 per cent of residents deferred taxes this year, for a total of $3.6 million, which was on par with the previous year.
Chief Financial Officer Trevor Thompson explained the city is projecting two per cent for general purposes, 0.7 per cent for infrastructure replacement, 0.6 per cent for new parks and rec facilities and 0.3 per cent for drainage improvements next year. Council approved budgeting guidelines for the next five years. These would create benchmark increases of 3.6 per cent for each year from 2022 to 2025.
Of the proposed $3,431 tax bill for 2021, $2,153 is for general taxes and infrastructure, $660 for water and $428 for sewer. The sewer cost is up 7.75 per cent, due to Metro projects.