Burnaby city council has approved its 2023-2027 financial plan which includes a property tax hike of 3.99 per cent.
Councillors endorsed the budget at a meeting on Feb. 27.
At the meeting, councillors praised the skills of Burnaby’s financial department in crafting the budget, noting Vancouver is facing a 10.7 per cent property tax hike, and Surrey is staring down a 17.5 per cent increase.
For the average residential property in Burnaby (one assessed at about $1.3 million), the 3.99 per cent increase represents about $74 more than last year.
Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA) Coun. Sav Dhaliwal called the financial plan “a very, very good deal for local government,” noting the annual taxes for the average residence would amount to $1,931.
“That’s the city’s share – $1,931 for the whole household,” Dhaliwal said. “And that’s less than $6 a day – that is for fire, the police, the roads, the library, the parks, and you add another, approximately, $3 for your water, sewage, your garbage pickup. That’s only $9 a day per household.”
The financial plan includes a two per cent tax increase for water services and a two per cent increase for sewer services, though those increases are lower than the cost passed down from Metro Vancouver.
Burnaby’s operating plan budgets for $646.5 million for additional funding for the RCMP contract increase and E-Comm services, collective agreement wage increases for fire and CUPE staff and other inflationary increases to core services.
The capital plan is $291.4 million, allocated to major civic projects, including the Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Arena, the replacement of Fire Station 4 and the construction of the new Fire Station 8 on Burnaby Mountain.
Councillors said the increase is one of the lowest in the region – but it isn’t the lowest: Port Coquitlam just proposed a 3.38 per cent tax increase for this year, though that represents about $105 for the average $967,000 PoCo home.
2024: A 7% increase to come?
The adopted financial plan includes a property tax rate increase of about seven per cent from 2024 to 2027. But councillors stressed the only officially approved number is the 3.99 per cent increase for 2023.
“The seven per cent projections are simply that – they’re very, very rough estimates,” said BCA Coun. Alison Gu, adding that property taxes work on a “relative system” in which the tax increase depends on the increase in a property’s assessed value compared to the city’s average.
BCA Coun. Pietro Calendino said it’s normal for council to review the projections yearly.
“The seven per cent is not what may happen next year or in future years,” he said.
One Burnaby Coun. Richard Lee voted against the budget, a move consistent with his new political party’s platform promises to freeze taxes.
Lee was the sole councillor opposed; the budget passed.
Burnaby’s capital projects include:
- Pedestrian Overpass across Highway 1 ($18.9 million)
- Customer Service Centre ($593,600)
- BC Parkway Lighting ($4 million)
- Active transportation, cycling network and sidewalks ($30.89 million)
- Fire Station 4 replacement ($23 million)
- Fire Station 8 on Burnaby Mountain ($24.5 million)
- Burnaby Lake Aquatic and Arena ($195 million)
- Covered sports boxes at Riverway and Confederation Park ($10 million)
—With files from Diane Strandberg, Tri-City News