2017 City budget consultation final stages Nov 30 & Dec 7. Taxes up 3.4%, fees up too. Public input needed.

City Hall at nightUPDATED – Attend or watch Special City Council meeting December 7, 2016 (Wed) 9:3o am. Several topics are on the agenda (Administrative Report, 2017 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, 2017 Capital and Operating Budget, Budget Resolution). 
http://council.vancouver.ca/20161207/spec20161207ag.htm

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The City of Vancouver is proposing to raise property taxes (3.4%) and services fees to cover a $55-million increase in its operating budget, according to the $1.32 billion draft 2017 budget, released on November 23. Fees going up include utility, recreation and permit fees. Increases are to pay for greater costs for existing services “in line with inflation” plus new spending in other areas (social housing, security the arts, etc.), and expected to cost an extra $49 for a median homeowner.

Read the 2017 Budget at vancouver.ca/budget.

Citizen and taxpayer involvement is important. Ask questions, get clarifications, and tell City staff and your elected Mayor and Council what you think. From our experience in past years, union representatives are the most proactive in attending dialogue and Council meetings on the budget. They attend with specific requests, well prepared. Taxpayers, not so much. Is the City using taxpayer funds and public money efficiently? Has public input been adequately considered? Are waste and inefficiencies being rimmed before the City asks for more money? Is the budget transparent enough? Are the budget priorities smart and sound?

See further below for media links and an official bulletin from the City.

Here is how to get involved in the remaining days:

1. Budget Dialogue Session
November 30, 2016 (Wed), start 6:30, presentation 6:40, then Q&A.
Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews (Davie & Pacific)
At 6:40 pm, the Finance team will present an overview of the proposed budget, for about 30 minutes, then Q&A with senior staff decision-makers and Councillor Geoff Meggs.

2. Special City Council meeting
December 7, 2016 (Wed) 9:3o am
Several topics are on the agenda, including. See agenda and documents (Administrative Report dated, 2017 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, 2017 Capital and Operating Budget, Budget Resolution). 
http://council.vancouver.ca/20161207/spec20161207ag.htm

3. Regular Council meeting
December 13, 2016 (Wed) at 9:30 am
Council will vote to approve the budget. When ready, agenda will be here:
https://covapp.vancouver.ca/councilMeetingPublic/CouncilMeetings.aspx

E-mail, phone:
Besides the above, send in questions or comments to staff or Council by calling 3-1-1 or emailing Finance staff (budget@vancouver.ca), Council (mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca).

MEDIA (more to be added as it comes up)

City of Vancouver proposing 3.4% property tax increase: Opposing Coun. George Affleck says city’s operating budget outpacing inflation (by Maryse Zeidler, CBC News, Nov 23, 2016)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/city-of-vancouver-property-taxes-1.3865023

Spending up, taxes up in proposed City of Vancouver budget
(by Matt Robinson, The Province, November 23, 2016)
Excerpt: The city’s proposed $1.32 billion operating budget is up 4.7 per cent over that of 2016, while the capital budget jumped nearly 50 per cent from $325 million to $486 millionAccounting for some of the increased capital spending is $80.1 million in affordable housing projects, $25.3 million of work on libraries and a fire hall, $17.4 million for bike lanes and greenways, and $14.6 million on child care. Utilities, public works and transportation upgrades often gobble up cash and next year will be no different, with a combined total of $233.9 million earmarked for such projects. That is up 70 per cent from 2016’s figures. Among the planned additional operating expenses are $3.8 million to improve public cleanliness, $3.1 million for new fire trucks and $2.1 million to implement the city’s new empty homes tax… More than half of the the city’s operating revenues come from property taxes, with the balance coming from user and utility fees. For median single-family houses assessed at just under $1.4 million, those expenses would amount to about $3,467 in 2017 — up $145 over 2016.
http://www.theprovince.com/news/local+news/spending+taxes+proposed+city+vancouver+budget/12426104/story.html

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City of Vancouver: Information Bulletin, November 23, 2016

2017 City Budget invests in affordable housing and service improvements

The City of Vancouver has released its proposed $1.32 billion Operating Budget and $485 million Capital Budget for 2017. The budgets are designed to address key City priorities like affordable housing, public realm cleanliness and transportation, while continuing to support residents, business growth and safe neighbourhoods as well as addressing urgent challenges such as severe mental health and addictions. In particular, this year’s Capital budget invests $80M in affordable housing – the most in Vancouver’s history.

The City’s budget focuses on:

  • Addressing housing needs and building new affordable housing
  • Improving City services like reducing wait times for permits and licensing
  • Investing in child care and City services like libraries and fire response
  • Maintaining our financial health and fostering Vancouver’s economy, which leads the nation in economic growth
  • Making Vancouver a greener, more resilient city

The 2017 Budget includes a property tax increase of 3.4%, comprised of 2% to support existing services – in line with forecasted inflation – and 1.4% to fund investments to address the challenges and opportunities of a growing city. Over the past five years, the City of Vancouver has consistently had one of the lowest property tax increases among Lower Mainland communities, at an average of 2%.

The property tax increase amounts to an extra $72 annually per median single family unit (assessed at $1.39 million), and $25 per median strata unit (assessed at $478,000).

In 2017, the $1.32 billion Operating Budget (up from $1.26 billion in 2016) includes $22.3 million in major investments:

  • $8.8 million directed to public realm cleanliness initiatives, adding new fire trucks, and operating costs for the new nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona library branch.
  • $1.9 million for arts and culture, including funding for VIVA Vancouver, support for the film industry, Canada 150+ celebrations, and the VPL Inspiration Lab.
  • $5.3 million to improve City operations, including reducing permit and licensing wait times.

In 2017, the $485 million Capital Budget (up from $325 million in 2016) includes:

  • $80.1 million for affordable housing
  • $233.9 million for utilities and transportation
  • $47.1 million for parks, opens spaces and recreation
  • $61.3 million for civic and community facilities
  • $41.9 million for equipment and technology
  • $14.6 million for childcare

The City also plans to support the creation of 1,885 new units of social and supportive housing with funding from the Capital Plan supplemented by funding from senior governments and non-profit agencies. In addition, the City anticipates that 665 new units will be created via inclusionary zoning policies and as in-kind Community Amenity Contributions from rezonings.

About 75% of Vancouver residents surveyed this year say they are satisfied with City services. The City receives the strongest satisfaction ratings for its provision of basic services (sewer, water, drainage), fire prevention and responding to medical calls, and garbage collection, composting and recycling.

Fiscally, the City of Vancouver continues to maintain its AAA credit rating and remains a national leader in economic growth.

*NOTE: DOWNLOAD Backgrounder on new Street Cleaning Utility fee:
com-backgrounder-street-cleaning-utility-fee
 

Learn more at a Budget Dialogue session on November 30

Residents are invited to a Budget Dialogue session, at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews, at the corner of Davie and Pacific. City staff will make a presentation at 6:45 pm and will be available for questions.

This will be your chance to discuss and review the budget with City staff before it goes to City Council for presentation at a special Council meeting December 7, 2016.

Council will then vote on the 2017 Budget on December 13, at the regular Council meeting.

To register to speak at the special council meeting on December 7, email your request to City Clerks at: mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca or call 3-1-1.

Residents can also send in their questions or comments to staff or Council by calling 3-1-1 or emailing the addresses below:

You can read the 2017 Budget at vancouver.ca/budget.

Property owners can also find out about the  City’s land assessment averaging process.

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