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Richmond property taxes to go up 3.3 per cent

16 new Mounties part of the equation, with public safety front and centre of City of Richmond's 2018 operating budget
Richmond Mounties were spotted outside their No. 5 Road detachment on Monday with something missing from their uniforms. The officers’ pants were minus the traditional yellow stripe, as they made a public show of solidarity for a fellow member on the Sunshine Coast, who is protesting a national pay increase, which many Mounties say is insufficient. Full story on page 3.

Another 16 police officers will be hired under the City of Richmond’s 2018 Operating Budget, which was approved by city council Monday night.

This will bring the total to 40 new officers added to the Richmond RCMP complement since 2015.

The 2018 operating budget proposes a 2.3 per cent tax increase to fund general operating expenses, plus a one per cent increase to go towards the city’s facility replacement reserve. The combined tax increase will be 3.3 per cent.

“This budget continues council’s focus on community safety, while holding the line on other expenditures,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie in a news release.

“It ensures we continue to provide outstanding service for the community today, while also planning for our future, without putting an onerous burden on taxpayers.”

The budget would draw about $2.9 million from the city’s Rate Stabilization Account to fund the hiring of the 16 new police officers, along with three additional municipal employees in police services, Emergency Program Neighbourhood Preparedness and Richmond Public Library Senior Services.

This will defer the property tax impact of the above costs for at least a year. The Rate Stabilization Account is a fund established by council, which can be used to pay for extraordinary expenses or cover unexpected revenue shortfalls, without impacting property taxes. The account is funded from surpluses accrued in previous year’s budgets.

According to the city, the remainder of the property tax increase primarily reflects the cost of maintaining municipal services at existing levels, once inflationary costs increases are factored in.

City council also approved a 2018 capital budget of $160 million.

Funded projects range from road, sewer, water and drainage services to new buildings and parks, child care and affordable housing projects, land and equipment purchase.

Highlights of proposed capital budget include funding for:

Construction of the new River Parkway from Gilbert to Cambie along the former railway right-of-way ($10.5 million);

Reconstruction of No. 4 Road from Blundell to Granville ($1.8 million);

Construction of a new animal shelter ($8 million) and lawn bowling club house ($4 million);

Closed circuit television monitoring at signalized intersections ($2.2 million);

Restoration of the Phoenix Net Loft at Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site ($11.5 million)

Funding for design of a new Canada Line station at Capstan Way ($3.5 million)

Diking and drainage improvements ($14 million);

Phase 3 park development of the Garden City Lands ($1.62 million) and development of the New Aberdeen Park playground and garden ($1.25 million)

More information on the city’s 2018 budgets can be found at: