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Burnaby votes to raise property taxes; city posts $139 million surplus

Costs predicted to rise 6.5%
Burnaby city hall. NOW file photo

Burnaby City Council approved a property tax increase at its April 26 meeting as the city reported a 2020 surplus of $139 million.

Council approved an increase of 2.95%, above the 1.75% increase approved in 2020, although the city says its utilities charges won’t increase in 2021.

The increase is expected to generate more than $292 million in revenue, according to a city finance staff report, and it will amount to an additional $53.68 of property taxes on the average residential property valued at $1,101,558.

The report said city operating and capital expenditures will increase nearly 6.5% - $559,504,800 for operating and $293,590,600 for capital.

One example off increased operating costs is additional programming costs for the recent purchase of the 3713 Kensington Ave. recreation centre – formerly known as the Fortius fitness centre.

Meanwhile, the City of Burnaby has also reported a “healthy” surplus for 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noreen Kassam, Burnaby’s director of finance, presented the 2020 Annual Municipal Report to council on April 12.

“The city’s financial position continued to be healthy throughout 2020 with an increase in Annual Surplus of $139.0 million (2019 – $112.9 million), bringing the Accumulated Surplus to $4.7 billion (2019 – $4.5 billion),” Kassam wrote. Kassam said in the report that the 2020 Annual Surplus of $139 million is lower than the budgeted surplus of $145.3 million by ($6.3) million.

The city lost out on millions in gaming revenue with the closure of the Grand Villa Casino that continues today, the report said.

The lower than budgeted revenues are also due to other factors:

  • lower than anticipated community benefit bonus contributions received from applicants largely due to market uncertainty and changes to municipal and provincial policies regulating development.
  • lower than budgeted parks program revenue, city parking and rental revenues as a result of COVID-19.
  • million lower taxation revenue mainly attributed to higher than expected prior year assessment appeals approved by BC Assessment Authority.