Burnaby staff are proposing a property tax hike of 4.5 per cent for next year.
The proposed tax hike comes as part of the proposed $1.04-billion budget for 2024, made up of a $674-million operating plan and $365.3-million capital plan.
The tax increase is equivalent to an $87 increase for the average residential property assessed around $1.3 million or a $1,386 increase for a business assessed at around $6.5 million.
The increase would generate $18.7 million for the city. That includes about $4 million in new taxation in 2024, as a result of net new properties, according to the financial plan highlights.
The tax rate increase reflects rises in collective agreements, employee benefit increases and “inflationary impacts to the growing existing core programs and services to the public,” according to the highlights. It also incorporates requirements for community safety needs, including additional funding for fire services, the Burnaby RCMP and E-Comm services.
The 4.5 per cent “slightly exceeds” the national inflation rate for 2023, but staff said many city services and programs have been affected by “significant cost escalations,” particularly in the construction and public safety sectors.
“Staff are anticipating continued supply chain issues and a difficult labour market, which will continue to put pressure on services and programs,” states the report.
“The anticipated growth and densification in Burnaby will also continue to place additional requirements on the city’s core services and programs.”
The 4.5 per cent hike is almost half the original staff recommendation.
Over the course of almost 12 hours of budget meetings this past October, staff lobbied for an 8.44 per cent property tax increase.
Council ultimately decided staff needed to bring that number down, meaning departments deferred a variety of new staff requests, among other reductions in expenditures like grass cutting. The parks department will also increase its revenues from golf services and food services.
In October, Noreen Kassam, the city's deputy CAO and chief financial officer, told council municipalities outside of the Lower Mainland are looking at double digit increases and added Vancouver has proposed a nine per cent increase, while West Vancouver and North Vancouver are considering between six and eight per cent increases.
The operating plan also includes a zero per cent increase to the water utility rates and a five per cent increase to sewer rates.
Those rates, which are “heavily dictated” and passed down from the regional government Metro Vancouver, are “significant,” according to staff: the rate increase passed down to Burnaby was 28.91 per cent for sewerage and 7.6 per cent for water.
Staff anticipated those “sizable increases” from Metro Vancouver and pulled from the city’s reserves to lower the rate from Metro.
Councillors noted staff did a “great job” of managing the city’s reserves to keep those Metro Vancouver increases low and that residents in other cities have to pay the full water and sewerage increases.
The proposed 2024 capital plan is $365.3 million, including the construction of the Burnaby Lake Recreation Complex, Confederation Park Community Centre, Cameron Community Centre and Library, and the RCMP facility redevelopment.
The draft plan notes the city is able to fund capital projects through its reserve funds and reserves “as a result of Burnaby’s favourable financial position” without having to incur any debt.
The plan presents the budget for the next five years, including a projected property tax increase of seven per cent for 2025 through 2028. Mayor Mike Hurley reminded the public that projection is just that – a projection. The projected increase for 2024 in the current financial plan was also seven per cent.
Burnaby residents are encouraged to give feedback on the financial plan highlights between Nov. 21 and Dec. 8.
Staff will review public comments and provide them to council for consideration. The final financial plan is expected to be given to council in late January to February 2024.
Burnaby’s capital plan highlights: 2024 to 2028 totals
- Cameron Community Centre and Library: $260.9 million
- Confederation Park Community Centre: $238.1 million
- RCMP facility redevelopment: $193 million
- Marine Drive upgrade: $24 million
- Burnaby Lake overpass: $19 million
- Burnaby animal shelter: $11.4 million
- Rowan Avenue child-care facility: $8.8 million
- Sidewalk expansion program: $7 million
- Burnaby Mountain air bike skills course redevelopment: $4.3 million
- Next Gen 911 upgrade: $1.54 million