Property taxes in White Rock are expected to decrease 2.2 per cent.

Property taxes in White Rock are expected to decrease 2.2 per cent.

Larger tax break eyed in City of White Rock

White Rock homeowners to get one-year reduction; increases projected for 2017-2020.

Property tax bills for White Rock residents will see a greater decrease than anticipated for 2016, according to the city’s 2016-2020 draft financial plan, presented to council this week.

The draft plan proposes a property tax decrease of 2.2 per cent for 2016 – which amounts to an average reduction of $67 for single-family homes and $23 for strata properties. Last year’s financial plan projected a property-tax reduction of .06 per cent for 2016.

A staff report presented to the finance and audit committee Monday cited “ongoing efforts to reduce costs and increase revenues” for the higher-than-anticipated tax cut.

Implementation of the solid-waste user fee for single-family homes – which replaced the general-tax levy on July 1, 2015 – also contributed to a reduction in rates.

The budget proposes the solid-waste user fee to be $340 per single-family home, a decrease from the $355 fee that was projected last summer.

The fire hydrant levy – which Epcor previously charged the city, who then passed on the cost to taxpayers – has been removed from residents’ tax bills and “restructured” into the monthly water fees.

The reduced tax bill for White Rock residents won’t be a long-term trend, however; tax increases of 2.84 per cent in 2017, 2.77 per cent in 2018, 3.44 per cent in 2019 and 2.47 per cent in 2020 are projected in the draft plan.

The plan projects a 2016 operating budget of $40,168,988 – including revenues, expenditures and transfers from reserves. That figure is up substantially from the 2015 operating budget of $32,597,040, in part due to the projected $15 million of Community Amenity Contributions the city is expected to receive from developers in 2016 and 2017, which staff said will be transferred to reserves.

The proposed 2016 operating budget includes a number of one-time budget requests, including $100,000 for a zoning bylaw review, $75,000 to contribute to a railway-relocation study, $40,000 for the Official Community Plan update and $514,000 for various temporary staff positions.

Budget items that did not get funded in the proposed plan include a requested $17,200 increase in the city’s grant to the White Rock Museum and Archives, $94,000 to eliminate pay parking at Centennial Arena and six staff positions totalling $459,400.

The 2016-2020 draft financial plan will go to a public meeting Feb. 29, with a target adoption date of March 21.