Metro Vancouver budget increase less than inflation for 2014

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UTILITY fees and property taxes paid to Metro Vancouver by the average household will increase by $5 to $423 next year.

“This modest operating budget increase of 1.2 percent for 2014 is less than the rate of inflation and growth in the region,” said Greg Moore, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors, on Tuesday.  “It equates to $2.00 per year more for water, $2.00 for sewerage services, and $1.00 for solid waste management. General government expenditures paid by property taxes, meanwhile, have actually decreased by a total of $5.5 million.”

The region’s operating budget for 2014 of $647.1 million – that pays for core utilities as well as Regional District functions such as the Parks system, Air Quality Management, Regional Planning and a range of other services – is up $7.8 million from 2013.

Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation – which provides affordable housing to 10,000 residents of the region – expenditures for 2014 will increase by 2.7 percent to $39 million.  Revenues for the housing corporation are generated primarily through property rentals.

“Major drivers for the budget continue to be the costs of operating the regional water, sewer and waste services, and the investments we make in maintaining infrastructure and in building needed new facilities,” according to Finance Committee Chair Richard Walton.  “In addition to the operational expenditures, we anticipate a capital budget of $313.4 million for 2014.”

Of that total capital spending, $85 million will be spent to accommodate growth, undertake repairs and upgrade sewerage infrastructure; $17.7 million for upgrades to the region’s existing Waste-to-energy plant, landfills and transfer stations, and investment in waste avoidance and reduction initiatives; and $189.3 million for growth, repairs, risk management such as seismic upgrades, and new services in the drinking water system.

“Overall, I believe this to be a very prudent budget that accommodates rising prices, a growing region and Metro Vancouver’s commitment to excellence in the delivery of its services with only a minimal impact on ratepayers,” Moore said.