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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Washington State Department of Agriculture workers, wearing protective suits and working vacuumed a nest of Asian giant hornets from a tree Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Nest of ‘murder hornets’ found near South Surrey

String of traps set up along border to capture Asian giant hornets

Loretta Hibbs (right), founder and president of Surrey-based City Dream Centre, with Kelly Voros (foreground), the organization's executive administrator. (submitted photo)
‘Pumpkin patch’ brought to Surrey inner-city schools where COVID cancelled field trips

Work done by volunteers with Surrey-based City Dream Centre

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

File photo
Hundreds of Canadian chambers support Surrey Board of Trade’s call for pension fix

Up to 12 million Canadian workers don’t have pension plans other than CPP

Tyler Joe Miller. (submitted photo)
Record-setting second hit song for Surrey’s Tyler Joe Miller, who’s ‘stoked for what’s next’

I Would Be Over Me Too song follows Pillow Talkin’ up the country charts

Carolyn and Steve Touhey came across a pod of humpback whales while on their boat Sunday, Oct. 25. Photo supplied
VIDEO: Boaters encounter pod of humpbacks in Georgia Strait

Pod spotted between Comox and Texada Island

It’s been eight years since Gordon Spencer (pictured), and cousin, ‘Lil’ Bruce Mayo, were gunned down in a home in Langley, and Spencer’s widow is hoping someone who knows something will step up (file)
Eight years on and still no answers in Langley double murder

Wife of victim makes public appeal for people with information to come forward

Langley resident Sean Nugent, who died in 2019 shortly he saved a swimmer from drowning, has been awarded a posthumous medal for bravery by the Royal Canadian Humane Association (Courtesy Nugent family)
Langley man who died after saving swimmer receives posthumous medal for bravery

Sean Nugent rescued woman from Hayward Lake near Mission in July of 2019

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Most Read