New Westminster council approves tax hike of 1.91 per cent

The property tax increase for 2012 in New Westminster has been shaved below two per cent.

On Monday, council approved a revised budget that would see a tax rate increase of 1.91 per cent. In January, finance director Gary Holowatiuk proposed a budget with a 1.98 per cent increase. But then council asked an additional $150,000 be included to kick start an affordable housing fund, which would have driven the tax hike to 2.25 per cent.

The latest adjustments include budgeting an extra $50,000 in business licence revenue.

Holowatiuk also adjusted the money needed to pay for insurance, a savings expected to be $144,000. "Insurance claims vary from year to year, so the City budgets conservatively; however, based on last year's experience this adjustment is reasonable," stated his report.

It also said a $50,000 reduction in the amount paid to subcontractors for street and major road maintenance reflects what has been paid out the last two years.

Coun. Betty McIntosh voted against last year's budget because it was over two per cent. She said in past years there has been a move to put previous years' surpluses into reserves and to help pay off bills, something she opposed.

"It's not money wasted, but it's a burden for our taxpayers who are starting to believe they can't live in New Westminster. The tax rate is getting too high. Pensioners are getting a 1.5 per cent increase in their income. But they're getting utility bills with water rates going up and garbage rates going up six or so per cent. Those are taxes too," said McIntosh on Tuesday. "I was happy it was under two per cent."

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