Port Moody homeowners could be facing a property tax increase of 8.13 per cent next year.
That amounts to an extra $224 on the tax bill for an average residential property assessed at $1.248 million in the city, not including utilities and regional fees. The increase does include a one per cent boost to the city's asset renewal levy.
In a draft budget to be presented to council on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Tyson Ganske, the city's deputy chief financial officer, said Port Moody is facing several unique financial challenges, including inflation that’s driving cost increases for transportation, insurance, construction, services and software maintenance.
As well, wages and benefit costs for employees are going up and the city is having to absorb an increasing number of expenses related to community health and social issues like climate change, affordable housing, child care and homelessness.
Even the weather is taking a toll, said Ganske, as municipalities bolster their ability to cope with the frequency and intensity of extreme events like atmospheric rivers and heat domes.
"As a result, budget considerations must take into account the need to address these pressing issues while also balancing the limited resources available."
Ganske said Port Moody's growing popularity as a regional destination for its Brewers Row of craft breweries on Murray Street and the natural environs if its parks like Rocky Point, Old Orchard and Shoreline Trail is requiring the city provide more services to accommodate them.
"As the city attracts more visitors, it is faced with the challenge of managing regional growth and transportation demand," Ganske said.
"Despite this growth, Port Moody is not generating sufficient revenues to keep pace with the increased pressures on its services."
Ganske said the city's financial health is further hindered by its lack of casinos, pay parking and development revenues that help boost the coffers of many neighbouring communities.
The proposed property tax boost includes funding to pay for the phase-in of several new positions that were hired midway through 2023 so their cost could be spread over two budget periods.
They include new firefighters and a new job at Port Moody Police.
More new positions totalling $637,000 are being requested for 2024.
- positions to help the Port Moody Fire Rescue implement its master plan
- public art coordinator
- converting a part time clerk position in the city's finance department to full time
- additional temporary hours for outside labour to remove invasive species and restore habitat
- more hours for parks staff to monitor and enforce alcohol rules in parks
- a new training sergeant for Port Moody Police
Ganske said the city also anticipates the return of Car Free Day at an expense of $124,000 and another $10,000 to be spent on celebrations for National Indigenous Peoples Day.
When the proposed property tax increase is combined with expected charges for municipal utilities and regional storm drainage fees, owners of single-family homes in Port Moody will be on the hook for $4,568 in property fees next year. Owners of townhomes and condos will pay less.
But that could still change as the city solicits feedback from residents to be considered by council.
The property tax increase for 2023 was 9.29 per cent, whittled down from an initial estimate of 11.33 per cent that subsequently rose to 12.17 per cent because of unanticipated increases in various regional contracts.
Property tax rates for municipal budgets in B.C. must be approved by May 15.
In October, Coquitlam council began its deliberation of a budget that anticipates a property tax increase of 10.79 per cent.