Delta City Hall. (James Smith photo)

Delta budget calls for $97 increase in property tax, utility fees

2021 property taxes $2,487, flat rate utility fees $3,644, based on average home value of $939,000

Residents will pay an average of $97 more in property taxes and utility fees in 2021, according to a budget passed Monday by Delta council.

The city’s 2021 financial plan calls for an average property tax increase of 2.9 per cent — 1.9 per cent to cover city services, and another one per cent to pay for infrastructure enhancements (including parks sustainable infrastructure funding and neighbourhood livability and safety improvements) in response to the increased demand for outdoor spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a staff report to council, based on an average home value of $939,000 (which assumes an increase in the home’s value in line with the Delta average of six per cent), 2021 property taxes will be approximately $2,487, an increase of around $70 over last year. Combined with the $27 increase in the 2021 flat rate utility fees ($3,644), the overall increase in charges for the average Delta residence is $97.

The 2021 financial plan is $348.8 million, slightly less than the original 2020 financial plan that was adopted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That plan was revised in late April 2020, cutting the budget from $349.2 million to $336.1 million.

READ MORE: Revised Delta city budget halves planned property tax increase (April 29, 2020)

The 2021 plan includes a general operating budget of $187.5 million (a $7.2-million increase over 2020); a utilities operating budget of $45.5 million (a $2.1-million increase over 2020), new capital projects worth $60.8 million and capital projects carried forward worth $55 million for total capital program budget of $115.8 million (a $3.3-million increase over 2020).

The general operating budget — based on Delta’s current re-opening plan and the related phase-in of Parks, Recreation and Culture programs and services — maintains current service levels and provides for contractual obligations including labour and benefits, operating costs associated with new capital infrastructure, and other inflationary increases such as insurance and Fraser Valley Regional Library costs.

The budget also provides additional funding for enhanced sport field maintenance, housing planning studies including the Housing Action Plan and Mayor’s Housing Task Force for Scott Road, community resilience and economic recovery (i.e. the Delta Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Delta and Delta’s various business associations), and emerging needs for vulnerable residents.

The increase in general operating costs is partially offset by new taxation revenue derived from the city’s growth and net increases in other non-tax revenue sources.

The 2021 utility operating budget includes funding for water, sewer and solid waste programs. The various utilities are self-funded through the annual utility rate setting process and reflect the city’s requirements for ongoing operations, capital programs, the cost of services provided by Metro Vancouver, and other contractual costs.

Delta’s 2021 capital program includes maintenance and replacement funding for civic buildings, roads, water, sewer, drainage, parks and equipment, and the Neighbourhood Road Improvements Plan. The capital program is funded from property taxes, utility rates, development cost charges, reserves, and other external grants.

Included in the $60.8 million for new projects is the introduction of Parks Sustainable Infrastructure Funding, which is meant to address feedback received during the Mayor’s Sports Summits that indicated a need for more investment in local parks.

The PSIF will be used for drainage and irrigation improvements at Sunbury and Gunderson parks in North Delta, and Cromie and Association parks in Ladner, as well as two new off-leash dog parks at Mackie Park in North Delta and Pebble Hill Park in Tsawwassen.

The 2021 capital program also provides additional dedicated funding for neighbourhood livability and safety improvements including sidewalk connections and associated street lighting upgrades in North Delta, crosswalks and road safety.

Other significant projects in the 2021 capital plan include the Ladner Covered MultiSport Court, Winskill Park capacity improvements, Winskill Park Lawn Bowling Clubhouse, enhanced cycling infrastructure, and climate action and green initiatives such as the installation of level two electric vehicle charging stations and the planting of new trees.

The $55 million of carried forward projects includes sewer force main twinning from 72nd to 76th Street, Boundary Bay Airport capital improvements, the works yard at 8100 Nordel Way, the new North Delta track and field facility, a sanitary sewer pump station in Ladner, 120th Street water main replacement, and other smaller infrastructure projects.

Council also gave first, second and third reading to the city’s 2022 to 2025 financial plan, which reflects projected needs only and will be revisited and revised annually. The plan projects a two to three per cent increase in property taxes each year to allow Delta’s budget to keep pace with inflation and continued investment in city infrastructure.

Final adoption of the 2022 to 2025 financial plan is planned for April 12.

Council is scheduled to consider the annual tax rate bylaw on April 26, with final adoption May 10.

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North Delta Reporter