White Rock braces for tax bump

White Rock city staff are suggesting a property tax increase that, if approved, will see homeowners pay an average of $155 more next year.

The average White Rock homeowner will be paying an extra $155 in property taxes next year, if council agrees with an increase city staff have proposed for 2014.

According to a report that is to be considered this evening by council members meeting as the finance and audit committee, the increase – 5.25 per cent, compared to 3.28 per cent that had been projected – is needed to address “major changes in expected operations of the city and resources required.”

Financial services director Sandra Kurylo names the possible purchase of the city’s water utility and related infrastructure improvements as the most significant new initiative behind the revamped figure.

“While these anticipated expenditures are not yet in the financial plan, it is important to consider this potential transaction and be prudent…” Kurylo writes.

The city also needs to boost its focus on building up its reserves “in order for the city to continue to be sustainable in the next 20, 30 or 50 years.”

“Planning should occur now on how this will be achieved, to ensure long-term asset management and renewal.”

Council last January approved a 3.38 per cent property-tax increase for 2013 – an amount lower than what was initially projected (3.94) but higher than two figures (2.8 and three per cent) that had been recommended by staff in the months leading up to the final vote. It translated to an increase of about $93 for the average single-family homeowner.

The proposed increase for 2014 would mean a boost of about $56 on an average strata property in the city.

Another driver Kurylo cited for the projected increase was the purchase and implementation of a ‘Land Based Management System’ that is anticipated to facilitate automation of several manual processes, as well centralize and integrate a directory of property related records and transactions in various city departments.

“In addition, there are increasing demands on day-to-day operations, more complex finances and accounting, and new non-discretionary challenges such as railway safety and changes in the solid-waste program.”

Kurylo notes staff tried to balance costs while minimizing the impact to taxpayers.

The report projects smaller increases of 2.5 to 3.4 per cent in each of the following four years.

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