This story has been ammended since it was first posted to correct dates.
West Vancouver property owners are looking at a 4.48-per cent municipal tax increase in 2021.
District of West Van council got to work on their next financial plan, Monday, the second annual budget impacted by COVID-19.
Of the proposed 4.48 per cent, three per cent would be an asset levy aimed at shoring up the district’s rickety infrastructure. The remaining 1.48 per cent would cover changes in operational costs.
For single-family homeowners whose properties are assessed at the $2.98-million average, the 4.48-per cent increase would result in a tax bill about $5,342 for the year, district staff estimate - $51 higher than 2020’s. For strata owners at the $1.36-million average, the bill would come in $35 higher than the previous year’s for a total of $2,453.
But even with a three-per cent increase specifically for infrastructure, the municipality still has a shortfall of more than $5.6 million in 2021 thanks to years of council deferring maintenance and not putting away money for the replacement of aging assets, according to district finance staff.
Despite the relatively low increase in the operating budget, the proposed financial plan does include the creation of 13 new staff positions – about $1.4-million in out-the-door costs – in planning, engineering, communications, environmental management and finance.
If approved, those positions would go to support the tasks council has built into its strategic plan, said Isabel Gordon, director of financial services for the district.
And Gordon added, staff have already found significant savings, chopped from elsewhere in the operating budget.
“We have been through every line of our more-than 4,000-line budget, and we've asked the question over and over again: Is this the best way to do this? Do we need to be spending this money? Could we be doing this some other way that would be more efficient?” she said.
Council members had plenty of questions but the budget but few comments as it passed its first vote.
Coun. Marcus Wong, who chairs the district’s finance committee, emphasized that public consultations are just now beginning and nothing in the proposed budget is final.
The municipality is now taking feedback from the public on the proposed budget at westvancouverite.ca/budget and is hosting online meetings for the public on Jan. 28 and 29, which can be accessed from the same website. Public comment will be open until Feb. 9. District staff intend to have the budget ready for adoption by mid-March.
The 2020 budget was hampered by a $12-million loss of revenues thanks to the pandemic. Council pivoted with a revised budget that chopped out money for infrastructure, which further exacerbated its maintenance shortfall, and cancelled its environmental levy to help fund the projects that lower the municipality’s carbon output.