Abbotsford council approves 1.66 per cent tax increase

Average home owner to pay an additional $31 in municipal taxes in Abbotsford

The average Abbotsford taxpayer will be charged an extra $31 on their municipal tax notice now that council has approved a 1.66 per cent tax increase for 2012.

On Monday, council ended two months of debate by agreeing to the increase, which will see the police department receive 1.1 per cent, city operations will get 0.93 per cent and city capital will be reduced by 0.37 per cent.

A one per cent increase is equivalent to $1,094,000 of city revenue.

The increase will go towards contractual police department increases in wages and other costs, but also allows the hiring of one new officer and one civilian position ($111,000), a new bylaw enforcement officer ($61,000), a 5,000-hour expansion to transit service ($55,000), an increase in funding for the MSA Museum Society and Abbotsford Restorative Justice ($45,000) and other services.

Several cuts were also required. In addition to the 0.37 per cent reduction in capital, the city eliminated an annual one per cent increase to the capital fund as well. Other savings were found by reducing the litter pick up contract, department restructuring and the deferral of many smaller capital projects.

Coun. Patricia Ross feared council had reduced capital expenses too much, deferring too many projects.

“I get the intent is to ease the burden of taxpayers, but in the long term it is not going to do that,” she said.

Abbotsford Fire Rescue also had its request for five new firefighters denied. Council will examine the request again next year.

The 1.66 per cent increase equates to approximately $8 for every $100,000 of assessed value on residential property. Business and commercial taxes will rise $21 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Coun. John Smith said staff have done a lot of work to find savings, and he hopes more can be found for next year.

“It’s still going to be the lowest tax increase in the Fraser Valley,” he said.

Residents will see no new increases to either their sewer or water rates (although water goes up an average of $18 per household in 2012 due to the 2011 increase which occurred midway through the year). Solid waste (garbage) rates will increase by 2.3 per cent ($5).

A typical single family residence will pay a total of $833 in fees ($367 for water, $246 for sewer and $220 for solid waste) in 2012.

According to figures released by the city, the average Abbotsford home will pay a total of $3,838 in taxes and fees in 2012.

Having given its approval to the 2012 budget on Monday afternoon, council was scheduled to give first, second and third reading to the financial plan bylaw during the evening meeting.

The financial plan projects further tax increases of 0.74 per cent in 2013, 1.42 per cent in 2014, 1.55 per cent in 2015 and 1.6 per cent in 2016.