Mission home owners can expect their annual municipal tax bill to rise next year.
Council is considering a new budget for 2017 that includes a 3.7 per cent increase in property tax, a one per cent increase to water user fees, a four per cent increase to sewer user fees and a drainage levy increase of 4.9 per cent.
There is no proposed changes for garbage, recycling and compost curbside collection, however, a two per cent increase is proposed for the general drop-off rate at the landfill.
If approved, the new budget would mean a property tax increase of $66.51 to the average Mission home (valued at $414,500).
In addition, the one per cent water user fee increase would raise the flat rate charge by $4.80 a year. The four per cent sewer fee increase adds an additional $15.24 to flat rate fees and the drainage levy of 4.9 percent equates to a $4.70 increase.
That equates to approximately $91 in extra taxes and fees for the average home owner.
During Monday night’s regular council meeting, Kerri Onken, the district’s deputy treasurer/collector went over the proposed budget details with council and members of the public.
“In addition to maintaining current service levels this budget speaks to three of council’s strategic objectives – to improve public safety with the addition of one new RCMP member, administrative support for police services in order to have the members back on the street faster and to move to a 24 hour, seven day a week career firefighter coverage at Fire Hall 1.”
She said the budget also addresses effective economic development in the community with restructuring of the development services department to increase efficiencies.
If approved, the annual operating budget for the district for 2017 will be $69.2 million. Twenty-two per cent of the operating budget is for protective services (17 per cent for police and five per cent for fire/rescue).
In 2016 the average Mission home owner paid $2,972 in property taxes (including fees, the provincial school tax, Fraser Valley Regional District levy, etc.) Of that, $1,800 was for municipal services. The proposed increase will bring the municipal portion of the tax bill up to $1,866.
“In 2016, Mission ranked the fourth lowest out of the 22 neighbouring communities in terms of the cost of property taxes on the average assessed home,” said Onken.
Continuing with her presentation, Onken said $5.76 million in new capital projects have been identified and added to the general capital plan over the next five years.
Those projects include streetscape improvements on First Avenue, Leisure Centre facility repairs and equipment replacement, playground equipment and resurfacing, Keystone Avenue bridge replacement and more.
The district is planning to transfer $12.9 million to reserve funds in 2017 to build up the reserves for future capital expenditures.
As of Dec. 31, 2016, the district will have $5.7 million of outstanding debt. The borrowing limit that the district has is $219.4 million.
“That room could possibly be used in the future for things like upcoming water or sewer projects and other capital projects,” said Onken.
If the district does not borrow any more funds, it will be debt free by 2027.
Mayor Randy Hawes said in his opinion, the budget is reasonable.
“We would love to see it lower but to do that we are going to have to get rid of some of the service enhancements that frankly we believe our community needs to have,” he said.
While some of the increase is for parks and recreation improvements to create a livable city, and to improve processing time within the planning department, Hawes said the majority is for safety services.
“We said when we got elected that we would put in three new police officers the first year and one a year for the following three years. And we’re doing that. That is a follow through of a promise, but you don’t get police on the street for free.”
Creating 24 hour, seven day a week coverage at Fire Hall 1 is another important step for safety said Hawes. He explained that unless the district can deliver a fire truck or water, within 10 minutes of a call, then homes will have a lower rating causing people’s fire insurance premiums to rise substantially.
“We want to make sure we are able to provide the right kind of response time.
“If you want fire coverage and you want police coverage then we have to pay for it.”
The public is encouraged to provide the district with feedback on the proposed budget.
Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or made online at mission.ca.