Chilliwack maintains lower tax rates than neighbouring cities

Proposed 3.44 per cent increase means about $51 more for the average home in Chilliwack

The new Sardis Library will add $1 million in annual operating costs to the city's budget.

City of Chilliwack has levied some of the lowest taxation rates of any municipality in the Lower Mainland several years running — and this year is no different

Director of Finance Kathleen Fraser presented the city’s 2013 Financial Plan in chambers Tuesday, explaining the 3.44 per cent increase translates into about $51 more in taxes for the average homeowner in Chilliwack.

“Property taxes are 33 per cent less than in neighbouring municipalities,” she said, referring to provincial statistics.

The increase of 3.44 per cent is the same as last year, and was slightly higher in previous years.

Chilliwack actually has the lowest taxation costs in the region when you add taxes and charges, and the second lowest behind Surrey for taxes alone.

“The proposed Financial Plan reinvests in infrastructure, funds projects without using debt,

increases service levels, supports community organizations, and maintains low taxation

levels,” according to the staff report.

A full one per cent of the increase is going to pay for library operating expenses, totalling $640,000 for the brand-new Sardis library.

Two per cent of the tax increase is represented by inflationary costs, caused by higher wages, contract prices and supply costs, which offer no wiggle room.

The biggest chunk of the budget pie goes to policing costs, at 30 per cent, and for 2013 the policing budget went up by $841,500 to cover one new RCMP member, as well as a contract adjustment, and an administrative support position.

The 2014 budget will fund two more police officers.

Transit expansion is also in the works with planned service level increases, like the extension of the Vedder Road service, special seniors’ service and statutory holiday service.

Public works programs get a boost for the road rehabilitation program, weed control, and storm drainage improvements.

Operating costs for the new Sardis Library include the pro-rated amount of $640,000 from 2013, with the full estimated annual operating cost of $1,027,000 included in 2014 projections.

The council budget presentation is on the city website at www.chilliwack.com/budget   and questions can be sent to budget@chilliwack.com

There is a public meeting on the 2013 budget on March 19 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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