I am writing in response to Mr. Marley’s letter published Jan. 29, We Need to Take a Close Look at What Taxes Are Used For.
Council has not approved the budget yet. Staff will present additional options, all of which will provide for an overall property tax increase below 5.5 per cent. The proposed tax increase is made up of three components: an increase of 3.95 per cent for operations, an asset levy of 0.5 per cent to address deferred maintenance, and a new climate levy of one per cent to move the district to a more energy-efficient and less resource-intensive future.
Inflation, which measures the cost of living, is only one of a number of factors that drive costs of services. Most services are delivered by staff, and most staff wages are determined by collective agreements, which are negotiated based on comparable agreements in the region. Further, electricity and gas costs are not tied to the rate of inflation. We review our operations regularly to ensure residents receive value from all district services.
West Vancouver is one of the least densely populated municipalities in the Lower Mainland, and the costs of municipal services are higher per capita in low density communities. The cost of a length of road or a pipe is the same whether it serves 20 households or four households. And, unlike most municipalities, we have no industry to share the burden of operating and infrastructure renewal costs with residents.
Our communications department has grown in size and scope over the last nine years for good reason. They provide residents with important information in a wide variety of media, both print and digital. They support every operational division and also support our engagement and consultation activities, something that directly links residents’ concerns and priorities back to council and district operations. Not only do I hear from residents that they would appreciate more communication, they also place a very high value on consultation and engagement, which comprises a large part of the communications department’s workload. In this age of mass media, accurate and comprehensive information is vital to an informed citizenry.
I would like to acknowledge the value of the community’s input and questions on the budget. Council and staff are continuing to work to lower the tax rate increase based on this feedback.
For more information, I encourage residents to visit westvancouverITE.ca/budget, which includes my recent Mayor’s Update.
West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth
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