Union of B.C. Municipalities president Sav Dhaliwal (left) and Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman (right).

Labour consumes most new tax dollars cities collect

UBCM president calls CTF findings unsurprising (with chart)

Rising property taxes charged by B.C. municipalities have mainly gone to cover higher labour costs, rather than expanding civic services, according to an analysis by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

It found B.C.’s 30 biggest cities brought in a combined $490 million more in 2013 than five years earlier through a combination of property tax rate hikes, higher assessments and growth, while they spent $345 million more on municipal salaries, wages and benefits over the same period.

That means 70 cents out of every new property tax dollar generated since 2009 was eaten up by labour costs, CTF B.C. director Jordan Bateman said.

“It seems that most of this money is going to fund raises for existing executives, existing managers and labour contracts,” he said, although he conceded in some cases the higher labour costs have added additional employees to provide expanded services.

“The Township of Langley, for example, is adding more firefighters,” he said.

Rising labour costs actually exceeded the entire growth in property taxes in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Delta, North Vancouver City and West Kelowna.

“Every single new cent plus more went to paying for labour in those cities,” Bateman said.

Bucking the trend was Langford, where municipal labour costs actually declined slightly since 2009.

Bateman said that was due to the local council’s “pretty aggressive” contracting out of municipal services to private firms, which the CTF broadly supports.

“We think it’s better to put services in the hands of the private sector, where there’s competition and efficiency.”

The CTF analysis excludes all contracted labour costs, including RCMP policing services, although policing costs are included in cities with municipal forces.

Union of B.C. Municipalities president Sav Dhaliwal, a Burnaby city councillor, dismissed the findings as unsurprising.

“A great portion of our operating costs have always been salary and benefits of our employees,” Dhaliwal said.

“The services we provide are labour intensive – road, public transit, protective services, clean drinking water – all these require people to deliver those services.”

Most civic tax gains go to rising payroll | Create Infographics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

An animated Gordie Hogg introduces his 'Community Connections' videos. (YouTube screenshot)
Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Glenn Rose

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Most Read