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Letters: Richmond mayor explains tax hike

Mayor Malcolm Brodie says previous projects were delayed to keep taxes low in the past
Mayor Malcolm Brodie

Dear Editor,

Every year, Richmond city council has proposed property tax increases that are amongst the lowest in the region.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, taxes were reduced by 2.01 per cent, from 4.98 per cent, when council deferred the addition of RCMP officers as part of our three-year Safe Community Program.

We also delayed several other important safety projects such as the Neighbourhood Walkway Program and the Steveston Highway Multi-Use Pathway, as well as flood protection and dike improvement initiatives. We also cancelled the 1 per cent transfer to the Capital Building Reserve — funds earmarked to reduce civic borrowing for facility construction such as the Steveston Community Centre and Branch Library.

The deferrals and reduced taxes during the pandemic left the city with the need for catch-up budgets in future years.

The proposed tax increase of 5.68 per cent for this year (2021) came after significant consideration was given to community impacts.

Looking back over the last 10 years, our annual tax increase is usually under 3 per cent per year. With so much having been placed on hold last year, today’s proposed increase restores the funding level in many important areas.

In particular, the budget includes funding for the addition of 16 RCMP officers, 12 firefighters and funds for restoring building reserves. The proposed tax increase means an increase of approximately $99 for the average residential property in Richmond assessed at $996,000 — or around $8.25 per month. Taxation levels should return to their previous ranges next year.

City council needs to ensure we continue to meet our high standards for community safety and infrastructure. We propose to catch up on deferred expenditures from the pandemic so Richmond will continue to grow as a modern and safe city for the benefit of our residents and businesses.

Malcolm D. Brodie