Vancouver passes budget with surprise tax increase

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Vancouver passes budget with surprise tax increase

The City of Vancouver has passed its budget for the 2018 year, but with a property tax increase larger than what was proposed to the public last month. 

Originally set at 3.9 per cent, an amendment to increase taxes a further 0.34 per cent was moved by Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie Tuesday morning.

it was approved in a 7-4 vote — with all Vision Vancouver councillors and Mayor Gregor Robertson voting in favour — and was ratified later in the afternoon, as the total operating budget, with a total tax increase of 4.24 per cent, was passed.

The extra tax is being used for the following priorities:

- $1.1 million for a tactical response team to review city-wide zoning regulations and establishing a renter protection manager.

- $550,000 to support a bid for Chinatown to be named a UNESCO heritage site and support for "Chinatown Historic Discrimination programming."

- $500,000 for additional social grants not in the original budget.

- $300,000 to "reduce the amount of time to achieve permit approvals."

Louie said the proposals weren't in the submission discussed at a public hearing because the city's housing strategy and apology toward the Chinese-Canadian community were only approved last month. 

"These are areas where the public has spoken, and for the sake of the services necessary, I'm willing to increase taxes," he said. "I chose the four items after significant input from the public."

​The amendment was vociferously denounced by NPA councillors, who said there was no reason it couldn't have been included in the original budget. 

"It's unfair to the residents of this city to suddenly throw in almost a half per cent increase … without any consultations at all," said Coun. George Affleck, who failed in an attempt to have the extra funding studied by staff to see if it could be included in the original $1.4 billion budget.  

After the amendment passed, he interrupted a discussion between Louie and members of the media, saying Louie's reasons for the amendment were "complete b.s."

  

About 75 per cent of the overall tax increase will pay for ongoing city services and fixed costs such as wages, energy, rent and maintenance. 

Before the additional tax, the increase amounted to an extra $87 per median single family home (assessed at $1.823 million) or $29 for a median strata unit (assessed at $609,000).

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