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Abbotsford proposed property-tax increase highest in years at almost 6 per cent

Report says rising expenses due to ‘significant inflation,’ interest rate hikes and other issues
Of the $4,170 in taxes and charges levied on a typical $1.074 million single-family house in 2023, about two-thirds are municipal property taxes, including for police.

Abbotsford homeowners, on average, will see their biggest property tax raise in years – just under six per cent – if council adopts the 2023 budget proposed by city staff.

The draft budget was presented to council at a special meeting on Wednesday (March 1), with the second part scheduled for Friday.

The proposed budget calls for a tax revenue increase of 5.98 per cent, with much of the hike going towards “the impact of rising prices,” according to a staff report to council.

“Various contracted services, property insurance, wages, fuel and more have seen significant prices increases over the last year, putting pressure on municipal budgets,” the report states.

Komal Basatia, the city’s general manager of finance and procurement services, told council these pressures include financial instability following the COVID-19 pandemic, interest rate hikes, supply chain issues and significant inflation.

As well, he said property insurance has risen by more than 60 per cent, some of that triggered by the November 2021 floods that devastated much of Abbotsford.

RELATED: Preliminary budget sets average property tax increase at 2.9% in Abbotsford

The draft report indicates that the total 2023 consolidated budget is $334 million, with $247 million dedicated for operating costs and the rest for capital expenses.

Total tax revenue from 2023 is projected to be around $175 million – about $9.8 million than in 2022.

The 2022 consolidated budget came in at $285 million, with approximately $164 million drawn from tax revenue.

Among the increased expenses for 2023 are $1 million more for police dispatch services, putting the total budget increase at $4.6 million for the Abbotsford Police Department.

The report states there have also been hikes in many wage contracts, including for litter cleanup, landscape maintenance, outdoor pool operations and Abbotsford Centre.

New projects and positions include $1.3 million to “support growth,” and $900,000 has been allotted for program and service level improvements.

Basatia told council that some of the increases were offset by $700,000 in reductions, including for vehicle insurance, fuel, liability claims and electricity (such as the use of LED street lights).

The proposed tax increase is Abbotsford’s largest in recent years. Last year saw an increase of 3.49 per cent, compared to 2.05 per cent in 2021, 2.12 in 2020 and 2.88 in 2019.

The staff report indicates that for every $100,000 of assessed home value, each one per cent increase amounts to an additional $2.56 in property taxes for the year.

The average-priced single-family home – valued at $1.074 million – would pay an additional $27.50 for a one per cent hike, amounting to $164 extra for a 5.98 per cent increase.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean individual homeowners will see their own bills rise by exactly that amount.

Since property taxes are based on a home’s assessed value, only those properties with values that rise (or fall) exactly in line with the city average will see that average tax increase.

Residents whose property values drop in value, compared to the city average, will see a smaller increase – or even a decrease. Meanwhile, those whose home’s value increases more than the city average will end up paying more in tax.

The first part of the budget presentation from Wednesday will be archived on the city website. Friday’s presentation starts at 1 p.m. and can be viewed online or in person at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.

Council will vote on the budget later this spring.

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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