Mission council has approved a municipal tax increase of 3.83 per cent.
That figure is lower than the 4.62 per cent increase previously debated.
Along with the 3.83 per cent tax increase are increases to the drainage levy (9.75 per cent), water utility user fees (one per cent) and sewer utility user fees (five per cent).
There will be no increase for waste and recycling.
The 3.83 per cent tax increase translates into an additional $76.19 for the average assessed home in Mission.
The five per cent increase in the sewer utility user fee equates to an extra $21 per year. The one per cent water utility user fee increase equals an additional $5.28, and the 9.75 per cent increase to the drainage levy equates to $10.37.
Totaling all the proposed increases results in the average assessed home in Mission paying an additional $112.84.
During the budget meeting on Wednesday (March 6) afternoon, council listened as staff explained how they managed to shave 0.79 per cent off the original recommended increase.
After consulting with BC Assessment, it was discovered that several new lots – the biggest being a 25-lot subdivision on Hatzic Ridge – had been approved in time to make the 2019 assessment roll. That amounts to approximately $120,000 in extra tax revenue.
Other savings found include an additional $40,000 due to budget changes to the train bus operations, which have not been fully utilized. Smaller savings found include Mission RCMP changing its request for a holiday relief position from .6 of a full-time position to .45 (a savings of $17,700). There was also an unexpected increase in transit ticket purchase revenue last year, which also deceases the amount needed in the new budget.
As a result, the new proposed municipal tax increase was lowered to 3.83 per cent.
“I’m actually comfortable (with the budget), but I absolutely recognize… that it’s not sustainable to keep going to the residents for tax increases,” said Mission Mayor Pam Alexis. “But there’s a lot that we need in this community and we need to absolutely share the tax burden.”
Alexis said the most important thing council has to work on is increasing employment land availability so they can share the tax base with industry and business.
“Over time it is unsustainable to continue to rely on the taxpayer. We compare to West Vancouver, White Rock, Lion’s Bay with respect to the percentage – the 75 per cent that we rely on residents – and that’s ridiculous. We have to have industry in the community. We have to have light industry and so it’s a priority for this council.”
Alexis commended district staff for managing to reduce the overall increase.
“They have worked feverishly in trying to find more savings, more efficiency, more compromise in sharing with staff and time. Kudos to our staff.”
Coun. Cal Crawford pointed out that 1.07 per cent of the increase required was the result of the new BC Payroll Tax, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Had the province not created the new tax, Mission could have had a tax increase as low as 2.76 per cent.