Mission residents are in line to see increased property taxes in 2023 with discussions surrounding the city’s proposed budget on the horizon.
The proposed 2023 budget features $99 million in expenditures, an increase from $89 million in 2022. Police services amount to the biggest chunk of the budget at 16 per cent and over $15 million.
Forty-six per cent of the budget will be paid for by property taxes, 30 per cent by user fees and services, and 24 per cent by utility fees and levies.
New spending packages under consideration total $821,614 and are not included in the budget. Their approval would increase the city’s total expenditures to about $100 million.
The largest new addition would be $320,625 for a medical truck with four new firefighters. Funds are also being considered for the addition of a senior transport engineer, planner, planning assistant, HR advisor, asset management technician, electrician, and part-time film/tourism admin clerk, along with rapid damage assessment training for staff.
Taxes are slated to increase by 5.77 per cent, resulting in an average increase of $219 in municipal taxes and utility levies based on an average residential property assessment. This excludes the aforementioned spending packages under consideration which would increase taxes another 2.06 per cent.
Individual increases are determined on a sliding scale dependent on how much a property assessment increases in relation to the average increase, in addition to the demands of the city budget.
Meanwhile, the city’s outstanding debt is expected to be $13.8 million by the end of 2023. The sewer utility took on $12.5 million in external debt in 2022 to pay for the new sewer pipe across the Fraser River with the remaining debt attributed to past Mission Leisure Centre expenses set to expire in a few years.
City staff and council used feedback from the Annual Citizen Satisfaction Survey to help guide development of the proposed operating budget for 2023.
“Affordability and high-quality service delivery were both top of mind for council as they formulated the budget, as well as the responsible management of resources and reserves,” the city said in a news release.
“With rising inflation impacting costs across the globe, the 2023 budget is focused on maintaining existing day-to-day service levels while ensuring the City of Mission proactively keeps up with the needs of a growing community.”
The city says council considered reducing overall staffing levels, but determined a reduction in services was not aligned with the feedback shared in the survey.
“Whether we are running a household or a city, the subject of affordability is on all of our minds,” said Mayor Paul Horn in a news release. “These are difficult times for all and we will have some challenging decisions to make. That’s why we’re asking that you give us a little of your time to ensure that you’re informed and heard.”
The City of Mission is gathering community feedback on the 2023 budget and 2023-2027 financial plan. The community is invited to provide additional input on specific budget items in a survey.
The survey asks whether programs should be maintained, reduced, or eliminated. The items in question are (with total budget values bracketed): the community grant program ($17,000), new public art projects ($50,000), additional holiday closures at the Leisure Centre ($5,000), an annual one per cent increase for the capital construction program (up to $397,146), conference and training budgets for staff (TBD), and conference costs for council (TBD).
There is also an information session on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Boswyk Centre (7682 Grand St.) to learn about the budget and share ideas with staff.
Feedback will be presented to council on Feb. 6 and used to inform decision-making. Council is expected to vote on the final bylaw to set the budget and property tax increase on Mar. 20.
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