Port Moody homeowners will see an average $59 jump in their property bills this year.
On Tuesday, city council unanimously gave three readings to the tax bylaw, which, if approved next month, will see property and utility levies go up by a blended 2.1%. The rate is more than a point lower than last year's 3.38%.
The tax, which pays for city hall, fire, police and library services as well as utilities such as garbage and recycling collection, means homeowners living in a home with the statistically average assessed value of $539,275 will pay about $2,865 this year.
Council voted to make a few adjustments to the budget this year to save money: The city will sell three older police cruises, shave $40,000 off three summer celebrations (looking for corporate sponsorship instead) and bump the city tourism plan to next year.
As well, council voted against hiring a media clipping service and moved the second phase of the museum site study to 2018. And no additional police officers or firefighters will be hired this year.
As part of the five-year financial plan, which also received three bylaw readings, council plans to tuck away 1% a year until at least 2018 for asset renewal.
Among its major capital projects for 2014, the city is proposing:
• $859,000 for transportation upgrades (traffic calming, signage and bus stops);
• $675,000 for civic centre exterior repairs;
• $520,000 for the water system replacement and upgrades on Moody Street;
• $464,000 for recreation complex improvements;
• $450,000 for road reconstruction.
In her report to council, financial services manager Gorana Cabral noted Port Moody, like other B.C. municipalities, struggles to keep up with increased wages and benefits for city staff, rising federal and provincial costs for CPP, EI and WCB contributions, inflation and other related fees to do business (utilities, fuel, software maintenance and postage).
Still, the city has seen "some modest growth" in tax revenues from new construction as well as fees and fines hikes, she wrote.
Port Moody's 2.1% blended hike is lower than Coquitlam's rate of 2.42% but higher than Port Coquitlam's, which this year saw a 0.21% decrease.
Port Moody forecasts property taxes will rise an average of $66 next year and $88 in 2016. City council is expected to adopt its 2014 tax rate and five-year financial plan bylaws at its May 13 meeting. Property taxes are due by July 2.