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Burnaby proposes 2.9 per cent tax hike

Burnaby taxpayers are looking at a proposed 2.9 per cent property tax increase for 2013, according to the provisional financial plan.

The provisional plan outlines the city's financial direction for the next five years and provides a basis for public consultation on the city's more detailed budget for the coming year.

The plan focuses on "community safety and security, maintaining and improving existing infrastructure for roads and community facilities, and new services such as the opening of the Edmonds Community Centre early in the new year," said a report from the director of finance.

The proposed 2.9 per cent property tax increase is necessary to fund wage increases for civic workers as outlined in their collective agreement, "operational and inflationary increases and new services after budget reductions have been made across programs to minimize the impact on property taxes."

A $1-million city surplus for 2012 is already factored in as a funding source in the plan, which must be adopted by council by May 15.

The tax increase is in addition to the six per cent hikes to both the sewer and water utility bills announced last month to cover the costs of new and replacement infrastructure.

The cost of garbage disposal will also now be charged separately, with increases ranging from $65 to $95 depending on the size of toter bin used. That decision was made last month to cover the rising cost of Metro Vancouver tipping fees—what the region charges Burnaby to dispose of the garbage it collects—through a separate garbage disposal fee.

"This way at least we can put the cost out in front so everybody can see it," said city manager Bob Moncur at a recent council meeting, "... as opposed to being buried in the tax bill which would have to go up significantly to cover these costs."

The city remains in a strong fiscal position, with its investment portfolio projected to earn a five-per-cent yield, or $37.6 million, by the end of the year, said Mayor Derek Corrigan in his inaugural speech last week.

The Burnaby property tax rate went up by 3.98 per cent in 2012.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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