File photo White Rock plans a tax increase next year, part of its five year financial plan.

White Rock plans 3.97% tax increase

Residents question proposal

City of White Rock’s 2018-2022 draft financial plan calls for tax increases starting with a close to four per cent bump next year.

While the public was invited to make submissions at the Dec. 11 finance committee meeting, only three residents provided comment. Council later called on staff to schedule readings for a financial plan bylaw, including a public hearing, in the new year.

Prior to public input, financial services director Sandra Kurylo outlined a version of the draft plan, which calls for a property tax increase for 2018 of 3.97 per cent. This, she said, equates to an increase of $136 on an average detached home, or $34 on an average strata property.

The plan outlines future projected tax increases of 3.02 per cent (2019), 2.88 per cent (2020), 2.76 per cent (2021) and 2.93 per cent (2022).

Also planned to increase next year are the secondary-suite service fee (by $10), the solid waste user fee (by $1) and summer waterfront parking rates (25 cents an hour).

“I’m not going to comment on the fact that this meeting is being held at two o’clock on the afternoon of an election day (South Surrey-White Rock federal byelection Dec. 11), when people are at work and busy voting,” said longtime council critic Garry Wolgemuth, who questioned the use of community amenity contributions (CACs) from a spate of development planned for the city, noting that “work has to be done for infrastructure, water mains, sewer mains.”

“Where it falls off the cliff is when we start spending this money that could be used for police vehicles, fire vehicles, city vehicles, and we build a big park and a big parkade for visitors and restaurant owners who might sell the extra gelato or a meal in the heaviest traffic times in the year,” he said. “This money could be spent for infrastructure and amenities that could benefit the whole city and not just a special group.”

Following comment from Mayor Wayne Baldwin that “there seems to be a misunderstanding of what CACs can… be used for,” Kurylo confirmed they cannot be used to purchase emergency vehicles or to replace water mains.

“They have to be used for providing amenities and facilities and new things for the public… such as extending walkways and purchasing parkland; purchasing public art and things like that,” Kurylo said.

It was a meeting that only grew combative during remarks from resident Roderick Louis, who asked repeatedly if the city intended to develop a list of “formal municipal objectives” that would be subject to scheduled review, in keeping with B.C.’s Community Charter.

Louis was warned by committee chair Megan Knight to “please keep it civil” and confine comments to the financial plan, after he went on a tirade against the “lack of a comprehensive waterfront plan” as called for by the city’s May 2009 strategic economic development plan.

“Council has a propensity to pick and choose their own objectives, not city objectives… their own priorities, some would say ego projects, monuments to themselves that create headaches for them and angst in the community… the $12-million highrise parkade on the waterfront, the $6-million upgrade of Memorial Park, a $15-million land-creation project on the waterfront,” Louis said.

He was not satisfied with comments from city manager Dan Bottrill that the annual report, as called for in the Community Charter, does “include a number of priorities and city objectives.”

“Priorities are not objectives,” Louis repeated during Bottrill’s answer, before Knight interjected “that’s enough – please sit down.”

Resident Mike Pearce, a former mayor of both Penticton and Quesnel, urged council to take Louis’s comments seriously.

“He’s speaking as a citizen and he has spent hundreds of hours developing his questions,” Pearce said. “He’s genuinely, in his mind, bringing forward issues to you in the best way he knows how.”

Pearce asked if council had attempted to build the budget as a “zero-based budgeting exercise.” Citing the planned 3.97 per cent tax increase, Pearce said “what I used to do was go back to staff and pick another number – like 1.97 per cent – and ask them to run through the numbers.”

Pearce also questioned the wisdom of using CACs to bolster city budgeting.

“I think they’re a trap – because when you are cash-starved, they’re easy to work their way into the hardcore things in the budget, and then you have to keep on and keep on with developers so you can get those,” he said.

A rise in RCMP contract costs would account for almost a third of next year’s tax increase, according to Kurylo’s presentation. This includes two new police officers scheduled to start at the beginning of July. The city is also considering adding a firefighter, a human-resources assistant, a freedom-of-information clerk, an RCMP administrative clerk and four parks labourers.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Surrey mayor decries ‘alarming frequency’ of ‘mob violence’ after another brawl

Surrey RCMP urge the public to come forward with information about those involved

Morello memories: Surrey musician’s story about autographed guitar is all the Rage

Johnny Peralta’s hand-crafted instrument helped get him into a sold-out concert

Falling tree crushes front of SUV carrying South Surrey woman, granddaughters

Linda Simpson wants City of Surrey to review Croydon Drive trees, following harrowing experience

Keep RCMP campaign in Surrey has more support than councillor had votes

Group fighting to keep RCMP in city says it has more petition signatures than votes a Surrey councillor got in 2018 election

Delta cops not releasing name of man charged with assault, citing ‘privacy issues’

Police say man charged with assault related to a “relationship violence” incident in early November

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

New case of vaping-related illness in Quebec brings national total to 8

Quebec health minister considering tightening the rules around vaping products

Greens to vote against Liberal throne speech unless carbon targets toughened: May

Green leader Elizabeth May and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Friday, discussing common ground

Toxic smell returns to Abbotsford elementary school raising health concerns for students, teachers and parents

King Traditional Elementary suffers daily from neighbouring waste-storage facility’s stench

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Delays seen on some Metro Vancouver bus routes as transit strike ramps up

According to TransLink, routes in downtown Vancouver are bearing the brunt of the delays

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

Most Read