Langford residents could be set for some hefty tax bills over the next few years.
A tax increase of at least six per cent is forecasted for 2023, according to the Langford financial plan document for 2022 to 2026.
That was before several big-ticket budget items came up for discussion during a protracted committee of the whole meeting on Monday (Feb. 27), during which councillors recommended staff include nearly $4 million in spending in the 2023 budget. These amounts all need to be voted on and approved by council during the city’s budget process.
After several years under the previous mayor and council of keeping taxes lower – partially through the use of surplus and reserves and higher-than-expected revenues – Langford’s current five-year financial plan means residents are looking at higher hikes than in previous years.
Last year, city staff had initially pitched a 5 per cent increase, which was worked down to 2.95 per cent. In 2021, 3.95 per cent became 2.95 per cent and in 2020, 3.49 per cent became 1.9 per cent.
During the meeting, the committee recommended Langford double its $950,000 annual subsidy paid to the YMCA-YWCA Westhills to help cover the costs of running the recreation facility. That extra $950,000 would mean a tax increase of 2.5 per cent, according to a city staff report (if the additional contribution was provided from April to December).
Funding Langford’s share of the design phase for the new RCMP detachment is set to cost $721,560. During the committee meeting, another motion was approved to up the ratio of police officers to population (dubbed “cop to pop ratio”) to 1:750, up from 1:815 currently. That will entail hiring five new police officers in 2023, costing $1,001,462.
In addition, hiring nine additional firefighting staff for the next three years would cost around $950,000 per year for a total of approximately $2,850,000 after three years, and would equal a 2.5 per cent hike every year for the next three years, per a city staff report.
There’s also a recommendation for staff to include funds for the hiring of six new city hall staff and converting one part-time employee into a full-time employee, changes that are needed to allow staff to manage the increased workload that has come as Langford has grown.
These include an arts and culture coordinator to manage Station Avenue, a parks facilities coordinator, a records assistant, a senior accountant plus an accounting technician, a full-time community patrol officer and converting bylaw’s part-time administrative assistant into a full-time position.
That will cost an estimated $361,457 in 2023, equalling roughly a one per cent hike to cover the costs, per a city staff report.
Totaled up that equals $3.98 million, with each $380,000 in spending equalling roughly a 1 per cent tax increase in 2023, according to a city staff report.
Ultimately, members of the committee of the whole recommended all the above motions during the marathon Monday meeting, recommending city council approve the spending during its budget process.
But city council still has to vote to confirm all of this spending, which will happen during its budget process.
In a report, city staff said that would happen in late March into early April.
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