Well, City council has received the draft 2011 – 2015 Financial Plan and it calls for an increase of 4.87% in 2011. This would mean that the owner of a residential strata property with a 2010 assessed value of $272,000 would face an increase of $88 and the owner of a residential single family home with a 2010 assessed value of $561,000 would face an increase of $175. Budgeted figures for 2012-2015 are estimated to range between 3-5% increases with the drivers for these increases being commencing operations of the Westminster Pier Park in 2012 , the Multi-use Civic Facility in 2014 and the outcome of future collective bargaining.
The staff report lists a number of new initiatives, amenities and hiring that are one-time capital costs but also present ongoing operating, maintenance and financing costs. Other budget drivers are our aging infrastructure, annual wage/benefits increment and other factors such as the recession and BC Hydro and Metro Vancouver Utility Rate increases.
It is interesting to note that the report (published before BOC governor Carney’s recent comments re: debt and future interest rate increases) mentions that debt and interest costs will increase as the City takes on more debt. The report also mentions that the City increases its tax base with revenue from new construction. The flip side to that, and not highlighted or mentioned, is that the more construction the City has the more people we have all wanting to use the City’s few amenities. So it really is a short-sighted solution.
The report ends with four options for reducing the increase. These increases include advertising revenues, reducing Strategic Projects Budget, capping 2011 salary increases for exempt staff at the rate of inflation and using non-stat reserves to reduce tax increases in 2011 offset with slightly higher tax increases in future years (read: after the 2011 election).