Richmond’s tax hike is highest among neighbours

Richmond will hand its taxpayers the highest property tax increase next year among neighbouring municipalities, an examination of 2014 rates reveals.

Last week, Richmond council voted 5-3 to raise taxes by 2.96 per cent. That means a bill increase of approximately $42 for the average homeowner, or $97 when a hike in utility fees is factored in.

The tax increase is so far higher than any of its geographic neighbours.

On Monday Delta council approved a more modest 1.9 per cent increase. Vancouver ratepayers are also facing a 1.9 per cent hike. Burnaby is raising taxes by 2.47 per cent, and in New Westminster, a decision hasn’t yet been made. And in nearby Surrey, the increase is 2.9 per cent—although it’s also charging taxpayers a one per cent roads levy.

It was a similar story for the current tax year, when Richmond taxes rose 2.98 per cent. All neighbouring municipalities recorded a lower tax hike.

But a finance report from Richmond City Hall maintains the city’s average tax increase over the past five years “remains comparable to other cities in Metro Vancouver.”

Richmond staff compared Richmond’s five-year average tax increase—from 2009 to 2013—with Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey and Coquitlam, and found only Vancouver gave taxpayers a lower average increase.

Not all council members in Richmond were on board with this year’s increase. All four Richmond First councillors lobbied to remove one per cent of the increase earmarked for the city’s reserve account to leave taxpayers with a rise of 1.96 per cent.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who voted for the greater increase, said last week he favours squirrelling tax dollars away now so the city can afford new facilities and infrastructure in the future.

“Do you want to save as much money as possible so you’ll have it to apply to facilities, or do you want to raise taxes in the future because you’re going to be borrowing more money or you’re going to be going without facilities?” he asked his council colleagues.

As for utility fees, Richmond’s overall flat rate for 2014 is so far among the highest in the region. A comparison presented Monday at Delta Municipal Hall by Karl Preuss found only District of North Vancouver had higher rates in his survey that also included Coquitlam, Delta, New Westminster and Port Moody.

Municipalities have until May 15, 2014 to finalize their budgets as part of a five-year financial plan.

2014 property tax increases

•Delta: 1.9%

•Vancouver: 1.9%

•Coquitlam: 2.42%

•Burnaby: 2.47%

•Langley Township: 2.79%

•Surrey: 2.9%

•Richmond: 2.96%

•White Rock: 3.25%

•Maple Ridge: 3.25%

•Pitt Meadows: 3.3%

*Budgets must still be finalized; Source is Corporation of Delta finance department

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