Delta residents to see 2.98% tax increase this year

Homeowners to shell out an additional $60 for utilities.

The average Delta homeowner will pay an additional $115 in fees and taxes this year.

A Delta resident with a home assessed at $536,000 in 2011 will pay about $55 more in property taxes, as well as $60 more for utilities.

On Monday, Delta council approved staff’s 2011 financial plan and an overall tax increase of 2.98 per cent.

The hike includes a 2.48-per-cent increase for general municipal services and a 0.5-per-cent increase for additional police staffing.

Delta’s director of finance Karl Preuss said staff originally presented a higher tax increase but council asked them to revisit it.

The $250-million financial plan for 2011 includes $164 million budgeted for operating costs and $86 million for the capital plan.

Of the capital costs, just under $59 million is budgeted for new infrastructure projects, including energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions at the Ladner Leisure Centre, South Delta Recreation Centre gym refurbishment, a facility for the Delta Community Animal Shelter (which is looking for a new home away from the incoming South Fraser Perimeter Road), and funding toward Ladner Harbour sediment management.

The remaining $27 million is set for already approved projects continuing from past years.

Mayor Lois Jackson noted many of these infrastructure projects take advantage of stimulus funding from senior levels of government last year, allowing Delta to spend “one-third dollars” on projects it would have had to undertake eventually.

Delta will also be dipping into its surplus to take advantage of early debt payout opportunities for money borrowed for drainage issues in 2001 and 2002.

Preuss said in his report to council the move means Delta can pay off its debt by 2018, five years ahead of schedule.

Coun. Bruce McDonald said that would be a “really major achievement,” recalling Delta was $68 million in debt when he joined council in 1988.

Council plans to continue its “pay-as-you-go” policy established in 2002 of no new external debt for capital projects.

Some of Delta’s increased costs at the operating level are due to the municipality’s new legal secondary suite regulation program, increasing safety standards at aquatic facilities, and police staffing.

As for utilities, water, sewer and solid waste rates jumped from $800 for a single family home in 2010 to $860 this year, said Preuss. Of that $60, he said $50 is driven by regional increases and $10 at the municipal level due to inflation and contractual obligations.

Jackson said costly regional projects such as upgrading two sewage treatment plants (Lions Gate and Iona Island) and a senior government-mandated new water filtration system means regional costs will be passed on for years to come.

At the meeting Delta staff also estimated tax and utility rate increases for 2012 to 2015—2.5 to three per cent and $45 to $50 per year, respectively—based on anticipated needs, contract commitments, inflation, new growth estimates, and Metro Vancouver’s long range plan used to project regional costs for utilities.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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