Property taxes and utility rates will see modest increases in 2014, but will remain among the lowest in the Lower Mainland, according to a pair of financial reports produced for Delta Council.
Property taxes will increase 1.9 per cent, which other than West Vancouver’s zero per cent increase, is tied with Vancouver for the lowest rate in Metro Vancouver. Other jurisdictions are much higher, such as Richmond which will see a 2.96 per cent increase, and Pitt Meadows with a 3.33 per cent increase.
Based on an average 2013 assessed value of $567,000 for a single family home in Delta, that represents a property tax increase of $70, explained finance director Karl Preuss.
The cost breakdown of the tax increase amounts to a 0.7 per cent increase to maintain general municipal services, an equal amount for road infrastructure improvements, and 0.5 per cent to fund the 2014 Delta Police staffing plan.
“What we’re trying to embark upon is getting a bead set for our road improvement program, our utility rates, we’re adding additional infrastructure improvements, and I think the biggest one is for police services,” said Preuss.
The 2014 operating plan provides for contractual increases which include operating costs at the new Delta Community Animal Shelter, North Delta senior bus program which launched in April, and the addition of five full-time positions at community policing stations in Ladner and North Delta.
The new positions will require three police officers to fill the role of youth officer, mental health constable, and a patrol constable. Two civilians will head up the task of domestic violence caseworker and exhibits storekeeper.
As for infrastructure, the 2014 capital plan aims to build a roundabout at 112th Street and 80th Avenue in North Delta, Arthur Drive enhancements in Ladner, and Boundary Bay Airport improvements.
The total increase from both plans amounts to $2.2 million, putting Delta’s annual budget at $274.5 million.
Utility rates will increase by $30 to $960 in 2014, the bulk of that going toward regional costs, while Delta’s share is going up $12.
Water rates for homes will increase by $13 to $491 annually, while sewers will increase $15 to 297. Garbage and recycling are relatively unchanged with a twoonie representing the sole increase to solid waste disposal.
Just like property taxes, Delta has a relatively low utility fee structure compared with other jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver, coming in $30 lower than Port Moody, $288 lower than Richmond, and $513 lower than the District of North Vancouver.
“As well, we’ve been able to maintain the agricultural rates to be consistent with what the GVWD [Greater Vancouver Water District] rate is and we’ve transferred just that cost over,” said Preuss.
The agricultural water metre low rate for the first 8,000 cubic metres per quarter is $0.72 per cubic metre, with a minimum charge of $25 per quarter. Preuss said 97 per cent of farmers stay below the commercial water rate.
The 5.3 per cent increase to sewer rates provides for regional costs and to cover inflationary and contract increases for sewer operations and capital works.