Public budget consultation in City draws two speakers

Just two members of the public chose to speak about the City’s 2014 financial plan, when given the opportunity on  Feb. 17.

But that’s still twice as many as attended the budget open house on Wednesday, Feb. 5.

Before addressing the proposed 2.71 per cent tax increase homeowners in the City of Langley will see this year, Warner Smith, a resident of the Mossey Estates area of the City, expressed his disappointment with the low public turnout at the  council meeting.

Perhaps the City should consider serving coffee and doughnuts to draw a better crowd, he suggested.

“It’s appalling that there are so few people here.”

A 12-year resident of the City, Smith told council that his property assessment rose by $53,000 this year, and it’s getting to the point where his taxes are so high that he might have to move out of the home he built on a quarter acre lot.

“They (property assessors) assume that because it’s 12 years old, it must have a finished basement.

It doesn’t, he added.

“They assess property by flying over it. It’s outrageous,” said Smith.

Smith asked whether council had taken into account seniors like himself who aren’t going to be able to afford to stay where they are if taxes continue to rise.

“I may have to move someplace smaller and I’m not ready to do that.”

“Taxes — everything — goes up every year. It’s a fact of life,” said Warren Stuart.

However, the Grade Crescent resident told council, he is confused by the numbers.

Numerous single family dwellings are being torn down each year and replaced by strata units, he noted.

And while each unit is taxed at a lower rate than a detached house, there are far more of them.

“Where’s the extra money going? You’ve got a huge revenue base increase and yet taxes go up.”

The City will receive an additional  $354,000 in new growth revenue in 2014, compared to 2013, Darrin Leite replied.

Even with that, there is a $593,000 projected shortfall to be made up by the 2.71 per cent tax increase.

Without the new growth revenue, the gap between the municipal tax revenue and what it will take to run the City in 2014 would be closer to $950,000, he said.

Council gave the budget final reading on March 3, passing it in a 4-1 vote, with only Councillor Dave Hall opposed.

Councillor Teri James was absent.

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