The new Pitt Meadows council is looking at a combined 5.75 per cent tax and utilities increase for 2019, according to a staff report in the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting.
Cheryl Harding, director of financial services, pegged the increase at $175 for the average single-family property, and her reported outlined several items driving the increase:
• contracted services and provincial legislation 3.09 per cent;
• city department services 1.18 per cent;
• asset replacement (dubbed “saving for the future”) at 1.48 per cent.
She said approximately 54 per cent of the total increase falls outside the city’s control.
Taken as a share of the $175 increase, these include Metro Vancouver water purchases and sewage treatment ($45), and organic waste processing fee increases which are related to market changes ($21), the Provincial Employer Health Tax ($13), RCMP services ($12) and Fraser Valley Regional Library Services ($3), for a total of $94.
“At least three per cent of the increase is outside of the city’s control and is attributed to contracted services such as Metro Vancouver, RCMP and the Fraser Valley Regional Library,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall. “2.66 per cent of the increase is to maintain current service levels and commitments made by the previous council. Many of the new councils in Metro Vancouver will be faced with the same challenges.
“Council recognizes that this puts pressure on those on a fixed income or with limited discretionary funds. It will be important to move forward with a solid budget that balances city services, asset replacement and the best interests of our community.”
Pitt Meadows residents have had among the lowest rate of tax increases in the region, said Dingwall.
“The city has been diligent with asset management and infrastructure planning. This comes at a cost of 1.48 percent for 2019, which is essential for sustaining long-term service delivery,” said chief administrative officer Mark Roberts. An additional 1.18 percent of the proposed increase was identified to maintain city department services.
Staff said they have already cut expenses.
“The first draft of the budget produced a possible increase of approximately 6.75 per cent, but further closer scrutiny by staff has resulted in the 5.75 per cent budget proposed at this time,” said the report.
“The proposed increase is needed to maintain the same services as in 2018 and to continue planning for the future through increased savings for the city’s eventual asset replacement.”
The $175 average single-family property increase is based on an assessment of $748,000.
Council will have a budget workshop on Nov. 27, and business plan presentations on Dec. 10 and 12.