Pitt tax rate increase staying at 3.93

Council pans proposal to slash residential further

Pitt Meadows council rejected a plan by one city councillor to reduce a tax rate increase proposed for this year even further.

Council stuck to its guns and gave three readings to a financial plan bylaw Tuesday that will see property taxes got up 3.93 per cent this year.

Coun. Janis Elkerton asked from an amendment to the bylaw to slash the increase by one per cent, to 2.93, but her proposal was squashed quickly after it failed to get any support from her colleagues.

“We were told if we cut the budget any further we were going to lose services,” Coun. Bruce Bell said before he voted in support of the 3.93 per cent increase at Tuesday’s meeting.

The 3.93 increase means the average homeowner, with a property valued at $381,400, will see a spike of around $91 on their tax bills come June.

Three quarters of a percent from the overall increase will go towards savings for possible capital projects, including a potential overpass on Lougheed Highway at Harris Road and an indoor swimming pool.

One of the largest drivers of this year’s increase was the required curbside collection of organics, such as food scraps and green waste, mandated by Metro Vancouver.

“I think we came up with a very good figure of 3.93 per cent,” said Mayor Deb Walters. “One of council’s goals is to look at the long-term plan … not just for 2012.”

Quoting Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, who has forecast an unstable 2012, and warned Canadians about the risk debt poses to the economy, Elkerton reminded fellow councillors the city needs to keep its dues in check.

Pitt Meadows debt currently sits at $16 million, with most of the cash borrowed being used to renovate the ice arena and build the LEED-certified South Bonson Community Centre.

Debt servicing (the money required for a particular time period to cover the repayment of interest and principal on money borrowed) is $615,359 for 2012 – a 37.74% increase from 2011.

Elkerton believes there were still places to cut spending in 2012, such as $12,000 being spent on a survey of residents that’s been conducted by the city every three years, and another $200,000 being spent to paint the arenas.

“I know [the decrease] would amount to small potatoes, but it would have made a world of a difference to residents,” said Elkerton, who previously spent 14 years on council.