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Burnaby tax rate to rise 1.97 per cent

Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston -
Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston
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Burnaby homeowners will see their property taxes go up by 1.97 per cent, less than originally proposed in December.

The increase equates to a hike of $26.82 bringing taxes to $1,549.22 for the average home assessed at $660,847 in 2014, said city finance director Denise Jorgenson.

The tax increase is necessary to fund wage increases set out in union contracts, operational and inflationary increases and new services, such as the opening of the new Edmonds Community Centre.

But it's less than the 2.47-per-cent jump originally proposed in the provisional budget.

Coun. Dan Johnston, chair of the city's finance and audit committees, said that was thanks partly to "new growth in the Brentwood and Metrotown areas that were higher than we anticipated with new construction."

The growth adds revenue through building permits but more significantly, from new homes added to the property tax base, Johnston explained in an interview.

It's a trend that should continue for a few more years as major developments get built, he added.

Johnston also gave credit to city staff for finding efficiencies to save money. New engineering director Leon Gous took a close look at ways to raise more revenue and spend less.

"No major program cuts, just how we do it," he said of the approach.

"I think our staff really did a good job of pulling up their shirt sleeves and seeing what they could reduce."

When asked when city hall will run out of areas to cut, Johnston said looking for savings is something that should happen regularly.

"If we're doing our job properly we should be looking at every service we do on an annual basis and justifying that it should be continuing to exist. And if it's not, there should be eliminations made so the new programs that the community needs can be covered."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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