Const. Cameron Nay checks out the serial number on a bike, with security officer and Chilliwack’s top cop Supt. Deanne Burleigh. Const. Nay was deployed to the DT patrol as part of the Quick Response effort discussed in the 2018 budget talks. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress file)

Final budget approved with more RCMP for Chilliwack

Longer public consultation period for Chilliwack this year and 500 people responded with priorities

The tax rate increase of 2.62 per cent for Chilliwack was approved by council last week as part of the 2018 Financial Plan.

Public safety was again in the spotlight for this budget, said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

And the new RCMP hires will reflect that citizen-endorsed priority.

There was actually a longer than usual period of public consultation for this particular budget.

Budget details first went out with the 2017 tax inserts, and an online survey gauged the budget priorities of citizens who weighed in with opinions.

“We had more than 500 responses,” said Mayor Gaetz. “That is unprecedented.”

The majority of respondents indicated there should be increased public safety resources added to the Chilliwack budget.

“They also said we should stay the course financially, and that they appreciated that we have low taxes and maintain levels of service,” said Gaetz.

The initial budget plan called for two additional RCMP, and then an additional two were pencilled in.

After the public consultation emphasized public safety, another RCMP officer was added to the plan, for a total of five new police officers.

“So instead of two, we settled on three extra, and that reflects the community’s wishes,” Mayor Gaetz noted.

“I think this budget really respects the input we got from the community.”

The low rates in Chilliwack mean that a typical homeowner will pay $766 less than taxes levied in other communities, she said, which is something that stood out.

The proposed tax rate increase of 2.62 per cent breaks down this way:

• 1.49 per cent – Base tax increase (incl 2 RCMP)

• 0.67 per cent – RCMP officer additions (3 additional RCMP)

• 0.46 per cent – Public transit expansion

Here’s how the proposed increase of 2.62 per cent compares. Last year the tax rate increase was 3.5 per cent, when council approved 10 new RCMP officers in 2016, and the year before, 2016, it was 1.89 per cent.

READ MORE: Last year’s budget story


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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