Coquitlam homeowners will pay 2.94% more in property taxes next year.
Monday, city council unanimously gave final reading to its 2021 five-year financial plan bylaw that will see residents in detached homes pay an additional $62 in property taxes plus $23 more for water, $6 more for sewer and $7 more for garbage pick-up.
For Coquitlam residents in townhouses and apartments, the rates are the same except the water price is $14 more (not $23).
The numbers will vary depending on this year’s assessment — that is, a taxpayer in an “average” residential home valued at $959,100 will pay about $3,540 in taxes and utilities, up $93 over the 2020 bill.
For businesses, the property tax hike will be 2.19%.
The budget includes new priorities such as a health and safety officer to adhere to the protocols and guidelines set by the provincial health office and WorkSafeBC, during the pandemic.
It also includes more technology for city staff to work from home, and an inflationary bump for park materials. As well, there is new money to handle increased tax appeals and extreme weather as well as ongoing funding to pay for menstrual products in civic centres and Lights at Lafarge.
There are also earmarks to address city inclusion, diversity and housing affordability.
Council adopted the budget Dec. 14 following department head presentations last month and a community outreach in the fall, of which most respondents called for existing service levels to stay.
Still, the budget also includes a $3.6 million net shortfall as a result of COVID-19; however, that sum will be offset by the $8.2 million that Coquitlam will receive from the provincial government’s Safe Restart Funding for Local Governments grant program, wrote Michelle Hunt, Coquitlam’s general manager of finance, lands and police, in her report to council.
Mayor Richard Stewart said the city’s “number one priority” is COVID recovery.
“We’ve had to make some tough decisions in order to direct our resources where they will do the most good to help our community recover, build resilience and come out stronger on the other side,” Stewart read from his statement at the Dec. 7 meeting, where council gave the budget three readings.
And the mayor thanked past councils for putting Coquitlam in an “enviable position today” because of their financial planning.
Coun. Bonita Zarrillo said the budget moves the needle for gender equality with free menstrual products now available in city facilities while Coun. Trish Mandewo said the diversity and inclusion funding will “build a just and equitable Coquitlam.”
Coun. Craig Hodge, who lobbied council last month to keep the Northeast Community Centre and the North East Plaza/Urban Park in the 2021 budget ($500,000 was set aside for design), said the financial plan is “reasonable and helps to address the impacts of COVID.”
Hodge, a Metro Vancouver board director, reiterated the budget holds the line on spending but maintains the current service levels — something that other Metro Vancouver municipalities are struggling to do.
Coun. Dennis Marsden said some cities across the region are also looking at substantial tax hikes and levies to pay for their pandemic expenses.
And he said while Coquitlam’s plan is “frugal,” it does allow for contractual obligations — including as city enters into union negotiations next year with CUPE local 386 — and $9.6 million in additional expenditures; however, only $4.1 million of that will come from taxation, he said.
Coun. Brent Asmundson argued Coquitlam will continue to fall behind on projects such as road maintenance and park amenities, if they’re not funded properly in the future. “We have challenges. We must start to plan to fix those problems,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Port Coquitlam, homeowners face a 2.39% hike in property taxes and utilities next year.
The draft budget, which proposes a $71.14 increase for the average home assessed at $735,185, is out for public consultation until Jan. 17. Visit portcoquitlam.ca/2021budget to have your say.
NEW COQUITLAM FUNDING FOR 2021
• Revenue planning specialist $124,000
• Planner 1: $72,000
• Planner 2: $118,800
• Tourism program: $225,000
• Senior communications strategist: $124,400
• Affordable housing facilitator: $100,000
• Diversity, equity and inclusion: $100,000
• BC Christian Academy grant: $35,000
• Extreme weather increase: $150,000
• Safety and training co-ordinator: $110,700
• Tax appeals: $100,000
• ICT enhancements: $97,500
• Park materials inflation: $75,500
• Menstrual products: $60,000
• Lights at Lafarge: $24,800
• Coquitlam Festival Society: $2,200
• Place des Arts - Creative heARTS: $15,000
• Evergreen Cultural Centre - COVID response: $15,400