A proposed tax increase of 4.99 per cent has now been reduced by Mission council to 4.39 per cent.
On Monday afternoon, staff told council it had managed to find savings and increased revenues from other areas to help reduce the tax increase.
Kerri Onken, deputy treasurer/collector for the district, said an update from BC Assessment shows that an extra $100,000 in revenue is available due to new construction projects. Other revenue streams also showed some potential for increase including revenue from permits and other areas.
“So, all in all, the total should bring in another $197,621 which should drop the potential impact to 4.39 per cent,” explained Onken.
She told council if they want to make it lower, they would have to cut or defer some of the proposed spending packages.
Coun. Ken Herar, reading from a prepared statement, said he felt the increase could be reduced further and asked that the budget be deferred back to staff to find more efficiencies withing district departments.
“If the result is positive and we find savings, then council could look at adding more spending packages to the proposed 2020 budget without increasing the tax rate over 3.4 per cent,” said Herar.
While all of council agreed that tax increases are never popular, they felt the new spending packages were needed to help move the district forward.
The uneven tax burden on residents, rather than businesses and industry, is a continuing problem and Mayor Pam Alexis said there is a constant need to diversify Mission’s tax base.
She said the district is in “incredible catch up mode” and that they need to “invest in how we move forward.”
Most of council voted in favour of the 4.39 per cent increase, with only Herar voting against.
The vote pushed the budget forward and the final financial plan should be approved by mid-December.
About the budget:
The original proposed tax increase of 4.99 per cent worked out to an additional $101.06 in taxes on an average assessed home (valued at $747,930) in Mission. The new 4.39 per cent increase reduces that number to $88.90.
The increase is designed to keep current services at the same level as last years as well as several new spending packages including the hiring of more firefighters to improve community safety and improvements to the transit coverage, including service on statuary holidays and 2,500 extra hours of service.
The proposed budget is also calling for an increase of $19.62 (16.86 per cent) for the drainage levy, $4.80 (one per cent) water fees, $23.40 (5.4 per cent) for sewer costs, $3.30 (two per cent) refuse collection and $2.60 (two per cent) for recycling and compost collection.
All combined, the increase works out to $142.48 for the average assessed home in Mission.