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Vancouver utility and property tax increases slated for 2019

FILE - Vancouver City Hall (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver’s proposed 2019 budget will likely mean a hit to your wallet, as city council is set to review its upcoming expenses on Tuesday morning.

Among the proposals, the 2019 budget has a 4.9 per cent increase to property taxes, which city staff say is necessary to pay for the new Employment Health Tax set to replace Medical Services Plan premiums. The new tax would go into effect on Jan. 1, and will cost an extra $108 for the median single-family homeowner annually.

NPA Councillor Lisa Dominato says she’s concerned with high cost and adds council needs to take time before approving the budget.

“It’s incumbent upon us as the new council to really take some time over the next couple of weeks, and take a close look at this budget and go, ‘OK, let’s take a pause and see if there’s some opportunity to find some savings,'” Dominato says.

“This is, frankly, a downloading from the province. We saw this at school board, and now we see it at the civic level and so that’s what you’re seeing built into that 4.9 per cent proposed property tax increase.”

But that’s not the only jump in taxes. Garbage collection will go up by 3.1 per cent, while upgrades and maintenance of Vancouver’s sewer system will increase 11 per cent for the average household.

“The key drivers of the proposed rate increase are increasing treatment costs paid to Metro Vancouver and the debt costs associated with the Sewers Capital Plan,” reads a city staff report.

“Starting in 2016, the primary Metro Vancouver levy increase is a result of the regulatory obligation to upgrade the Iona Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats sewage from the City of Vancouver.”

Water services fees and rates are also proposed to go up by 9.7 per cent in 2019 for the average household, for a combined increase of 8.7 per cent for all three utility categories.

For a median single-family home, the new increases would amount to $227 for 2019, according to the City of Vancouver. For the median business operation, it would be $308.

— with files from Taran Parmar