Extra Funds for Roads and Sidewalks as 2017-2018 Budget Adopted
Port Coquitlam moved ahead with its planned 2017-2018 budget this week, while also addressing public demand for road repairs and sidewalks.
Tuesday night, Council gave three readings to the 2017-2021 Financial Plan Bylaw and related bylaws, to be adopted at a special meeting Thursday. Although the budget reflects what was presented during the budget public consultation in March and April, Council also decided this week to spend $88,000 more on road and pothole repairs in 2017 and $500,000 more on sidewalks in 2018 based on the feedback received.
The additional funding will come from reserve accounts so won’t affect this year’s 4.23 per cent total increase in municipal taxes and levies for the average home.
Total taxes and levies for an average Port Coquitlam home assessed at $682,859 (the average value of both single-family and multi-family homes) will go up $113.91 in 2017. That includes increases of $3.49 for the water utility, $11.12 for the sewer utility, and $7.06 for the solid waste levy, as well as a $25 parcel tax (a flat amount to be applied to all properties from 2017 to 2020) for the new Community Recreation Complex under construction in the downtown.
For the average single-family home (assessed at $883,239), the increase will be $131.03. An average townhouse ($445,083) will pay $94.70 more, and an average apartment ($336,660) $73.04 more. Even with the increases, Port Coquitlam’s taxes and levies remain below the regional average.
Roads and sidewalks were key issues for the 640 people who took part in the City’s budget consultation this year, in part a response to the deterioration caused by this winter’s severe weather. About 58 per cent of respondents cited potholes and overall poor road condition as problems, and a third favoured spending more on road maintenance or other general transportation improvements, including sidewalks and lighting. About nine per cent gave kudos, many of them for snow removal.
The public feedback also showed that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of respondents believe they get good value for their municipal tax dollars. Services that received the highest praise were parks and trails, fire, policing, waste collection, and recreation and culture.
In addition, 87 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the level and type of budget information they received, including mailouts to each household and details online.
The 2017-2018 budget maintains the city’s ongoing focus on infrastructure, community livability and a new Community Recreation Complex. New initiatives for 2017 and 2018 budget include:
- About $29 million for city-wide road, sidewalk and utility upgrades,
- Funding for the Community Recreation Complex, a vibrant community hub that will bring new and enhanced amenities,
- Three more officers for the Uniformed Crime Reduction Unit dedicated to Port Coquitlam, added to the four officers added in 2016,
- Five new firefighters in 2017 and two more in 2018 to keep up with increasing call volume,
- Development of a long-term sustainable infrastructure management plan,
- A new community garden that will encourage participation by people of all ages,
- Support for PoCo Sports Alliance service delivery and community sport development, and
- Expansion of the Pianos on the Street program in 2018.
Other budget highlights include:
- Completion of the Official Community Plan update, including public consultation,
- Economic development activities such as updating the Downtown Action Plan and developing a new Northside Commercial Plan,
- Increasing events and programs at Leigh Square and enhancing marketing for arts, culture and recreation services,
- Hosting of the PoCo Grand Prix in downtown Port Coquitlam,
- Technology improvements including the launch of an overhauled city website, development of a comprehensive city mobile app, upgrades to the recreational registration software, new software to improve records management, and exploration of technological innovation in partnership with TELUS,
- Coordination of the municipal and school board election in 2018,
- Update of the Environmental Strategic Plan, and
- Update of the Disaster Recovery Directory to identify services available after a disaster.
As in previous years, the budget also added the equivalent of one per cent of the prior year’s taxes and utilities to a fund for replacement of infrastructure.
Offsetting the 2017 expenditures is more than $403,000 in cost reductions (close to 0.5 per cent of the tax and levy increase per average home). The savings will be achieved by increasing revenues from and implementing recreation programs more efficiently; and through savings from unfilled positions, not filling two vacant non-union positions and reclassification of one non-union position.
Using a new two-year format to improve efficiency and long-term planning, the budget also projects 2018 tax and levy increases, although those figures will be finalized next year. The current projections are for a 3.51 per cent total municipal tax and levy increase in 2018 for the average home, including 0.67 per cent for the recreation complex.
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Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533