Low Tax Increase And High Public Engagement For 2023 Budget
PORT COQUITLAM, BC – May 10, 2023… Port Coquitlam has wrapped up its 2023 budget process this month with the second-lowest municipal tax and utility rates in the region and a record amount of public feedback.
The City adopted financial plan and tax rates bylaws yesterday that include an increase of 3.38 per cent, or $105, in both property taxes and utilities for the average Port Coquitlam home. This year’s extensive public engagement for the budget – which informs City decision-making year-round – also garnered a record 1,446 responses, more than twice the typical amount.
“We’re particularly proud of this year’s budget, coming on the heels of two challenging years and continuing to provide both value and much-needed services for the community,” Mayor Brad West said. “The significant amount of public engagement and positive feedback we received also tells us that our approach is on the right track. Those insights not only helped us finalize the budget for 2023 but will be considered as we make important decisions on behalf of the community throughout the year.”
Record Public Engagement
Public consultation for the 2023 budget included online information, an expanded Budget at a Glance mailout to 25,000 households, postcards at City facilities, digital reader boards along high-traffic roads, ads and a sponsored article in the Tri-City News, emails opened by more than 4,700 people and social media posts with a reach of 18,000.
Feedback was collected over three weeks in March. The budget survey was posted online and provided in print in the mailout. This year’s 1,446 responses were 892 higher than last year. The last record response was 971 in 2020.
Some of the insights from this year’s survey included:
- 76 per cent agreed that they receive good value for their tax dollars, a 10 per cent increase from 2022,
- The top five ranked services were fire services; parks and trails; garbage, recycling and green cart; recreation and culture; and utilities,
- Most improved services were business licensing, building permits and development services,
- The top three areas residents would be most interested in enhancing with additional funds were road conditions; parks, sports fields and courts; and recreation and culture programs and events, and
- 75 per cent were satisfied with the budget information they received, and
- 57 per cent of respondents live in single-family homes, with the remaining 43 per cent split almost evenly between apartments and townhomes, duplexes or row homes.
In terms of property tax attitudes, 48 per cent preferred the City’s current approach of below-average increases with seeking efficiencies and savings to offset rising costs, while 46 per cent said they would agree to increases similar to other cities to meet growing needs and costs.
The feedback also showed the community’s growing comfort level with technology. Ninety-one per cent completed the survey online, and the top four ways people said they prefer to receive City information, in order of preference, were: email, the City website, mail and social media.
Port Coquitlam has a long-standing track record of lower-than-average property taxes and utilities compared to other municipalities in Metro Vancouver. In 2022 and continuing in 2023, Port Coquitlam taxpayers will pay the second-lowest municipal tax and utility rates across the region.
“Each dollar we spend is closely considered, with the taxpayer in mind at all times,” said Cllr. Dean Washington, Council’s designate for budget matters. “After much deliberation, our 2023 budget meets our exacting financial standards while providing the services Port Coquitlam residents expect and need now and in the future.”
The City’s 3.38 per cent increase for 2023 taxes and utilities for average homes assessed at $967,000 includes:
- A property tax increase of 3.73 per cent ($76.14) consisting of 2.28 per cent for City services, one per cent for long-term infrastructure replacement, and 0.45 per cent increases to RCMP contracted policing costs,
- A solid waste levy increase of 3.69 per cent ($8.81) for single-family homes receiving City waste collection; and
- Utility levy increases of 2.81 per cent ($13.61) for water services and 1.97 per cent ($6.95) for sewer services, included in the utility bills mailed to homes last week.
Budget expenditures for 2023 focus on getting the basics right while supporting community safety, City infrastructure and current and future needs, including:
- Enhancing safety including two new RCMP officers, two new firefighters and continuing enhancements to City cybersecurity,
- Supporting new housing with resources to manage increased volumes of development applications and speed up approvals, including electronic plan submissions,
- Additional support for managing important capital and transportation projects, including completion of the Master Transportation Plan,
- Increasing customer service to meet higher levels of demand at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre,
- Preparing for climate change, including flood-protection infrastructure, adoption of a new Climate Action Plan, and increasing the tree canopy, and
- Continuing to set aside funds to replace aging infrastructure.
Details about the budget can be found at portcoquitlam.ca/2023budget.
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Manager of Communications & Administrative Services
City of Port Coquitlam