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Burnaby reveals financial plan: 3.99% tax hike, 7% next year

One city councillor tried to stop this year’s 3.99 per cent tax increase but failed twice.
The City of Burnaby has released a five-year financial plan and wants public feedback by Feb. 10.

Burnaby has released a draft of its financial plan for the next five years, and it includes a 3.99 per cent property tax increase.

While one city councillor tried to nix the tax hike, it was no more successful than his first attempt at freezing a sewer tax increase.

This year’s increase is equivalent to a $74 increase for the average residential property (one assessed at $1.3 million). Next year’s increase will be 7 per cent.

The proposed operating plan is $646.5 million which will cover 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, the construction of the new Fire Station 8 on Burnaby Mountain and development of non-market housing sites, according to the staff report.

The financial plan states this year’s tax increase is lower than inflation.

From 2024 to 2027, the city plans to increase property taxes by about 7 per cent per year, to account for “the operations of new or expanded facilities.”

The city is seeking public feedback on its financial plan until Feb. 10.

Councillor unsuccessful at stopping the hike

Coun. Richard Lee, whose centrist OneBurnaby party ran on freezing taxes, voted against the budget plan at a council meeting on Jan. 23. He was the lone councillor opposed.

He said Burnaby residents have seen the cost of living “increased substantially.”

“This is an opportunity for the city to freeze the tax for one year, so that the residents can have less (of a) burden,” Lee said.

Later in the meeting, he tried to introduce a motion to freeze the property tax increase to 0 per cent, suggesting the city decrease its “contribution to capital.”

The motion wasn’t seconded and failed to continue to a vote.

Other councillors said the tax increase was needed and had already been lowered from what was originally discussed.

Burnaby Citizens Association Coun. Pietro Calendino said staff worked hard to bring the rate down to 3.99 per cent, when it was “originally much higher than that.”

“Cities are not spared from the pain of inflation,” Calendino said to council.

“Had it not been for contributions from our reserves, Burnaby residents would see a tax increase of 12 per cent,” BCA Coun. Alison Gu said.

Burnaby’s capital projects include:

📣 SOUND OFF: What do you think the city’s financial priorities should be? Do you want to see any changes to the financial plan, or do you like it as is? Send us a letter.