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Tax increase hits 2.06 per cent

Abbotsford taxpayers can expect to see their municipal taxes rise by 2.06 per cent this year.

Council has given initial approval of the increase after deciding to add a 0.7 per cent  hike for a capital levy.

Last week, the projected tax increase was 1.36 per cent. However, staff asked council to consider a capital levy ranging from 0.3 to 0.7 per cent.

“I lamented the year we dropped the levy,” said Coun. Dave Loewen. “The levy was a savings account to put money away for a rainy day.”

Most councillors agreed, with the exception of Moe Gill and Henry Braun,  who opposed a tax increase for capital spending.

Council chose the 0.7 per cent option which will inject close to $800,000 in the reserve fund for future projects.

The 2013 increase breaks down to 0.16 per cent for city operations, 0.42 per cent for policing, 0.78 per cent to make up for lost revenue due to the provincial increase in farm exemptions, and 0.7 for capital.

Coun. John Smith pointed out that had there been no need for the farm exemption adjustment, the city’s tax increase would have been 1.28 per cent.

“I think that’s pretty darn restrained spending. That’s below inflation,” he said, adding he was satisfied that council had done the best it could do.

Water rates will not increase this year, while sewer rates will rise by five per cent in 2013. Solid waste fees will not increase in the coming year while a storm drainage increase of two per cent has been approved.

The average homeowner (based on a home valued at $400,000) will see their taxes go up by $39, sewer rates by $11 and drainage rates by $3 for a total impact of $53 this year.

In total, the average homeowner will pay $4,025 in taxes and fees in 2013.

While council approved the recommendations, it was not a unanimous decision. In addition to objections from Braun and Gill, both Loewen and Patricia Ross voiced their disapproval of the budget due to the fact it does not include money for five new firefighters.

Council’s initial approval allows staff to create a bylaw for the budget and five-year financial plan. Council is scheduled to give three readings to the bylaw on Dec. 10 with final approval on Dec. 17.

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