COQUITLAM, B.C., Oct. 28, 2021 – Maintaining core service levels while ensuring long-term financial sustainability and stability in property tax rates, as well as the ability to respond to emerging priorities, is the focus for Coquitlam’s proposed 2022 budget.
Over the past two days, Coquitlam’s Finance Standing Committee, comprised of all members of City Council, received a financial overview and departmental presentations outlining the City’s proposed financial plan for 2022. In addition to supporting the overarching principles of sustainability, stability and flexibility, Coquitlam’s proposed budget seeks to respond to community need. It incorporates community input to achieve a balanced approach that ensures the City continues to deliver a full range of municipal services while also looking to long-term planning to deliver the facilities and amenities needed to support ongoing growth.
Alignment with Community and Business Plan Priorities
Coquitlam’s proposed budget is aligned with its Corporate Strategic Plan and draft 2022 Business Plan, which reflects the City’s commitment to: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Reconciliation; Pandemic Recovery; and Sustainability, Growth and Livability.
These four overarching business planning themes take into consideration the social and safety priorities our community identified through the statistically-valid Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Citizen Budget public input and other engagement activities, and will inform Council’s decision-making throughout the budget process.
2022 Proposed Budget Highlights
Some details from the proposed 2022 budget include:
- The City’s proposed base budget includes a 3.62% tax increase, with almost a quarter of that, or 0.85%, related to the recent RCMP wage settlement.
- If approved, approximately 0.98% worth of new budget requests could add to the base budget and translate to a 4.6% tax increase.
- The draft budget includes rate increases of 4% for water and sewer fees and 3% for solid waste fees. These rate increases include significant costs anticipated from Metro Vancouver.
- Estimated new property tax revenues from development in 2022 total $1.8 million, which offsets property tax increases associated with inflationary and contractual increases by 1.15%.
- The proposed capital plan, which totals $548 million, is funded from a mix of sources, including: capital reserves including development revenues (45%), development cost charges (22%) and internal borrowing from reserves (19%).
- The capital plan includes funding for the Northeast Community Centre, which is being funded through internal financing with repayment from future development revenues, and Spani Pool Renewal, which is being funded by development revenues and grant funds.
Tax Stabilization and Long-Range Perspective
Construction of many of Coquitlam’s major new civic facilities and projects – such as the Spani Pool renewal, Place Maillardville Community Centre replacement and Northeast Community Centre construction – is funded primarily by development fees and other non-tax sources. Once completed, these new community amenities require programming, operations, maintenance and support services that result in increased operating costs for the City, and are often offset by new tax revenue from community growth.
In taking a long-range perspective on its financial position, the City considers the fact that the timing of tax revenues associated with development and community growth is not always in alignment with the expenses related to operating new growth-related infrastructure projects. This can result in significant tax increase fluctuations from year to year.
In order to mitigate the potential impact on property taxpayers, the City proposes introducing tax stabilization measures in 2022 to provide more certainty and stability. This would include using money from unexpected property tax revenues in 2021 to initiate a Tax Stabilization Reserve to assist in managing anticipated future tax increase spikes stemming from new operating costs.
2022 Budget Process
Following the departmental budgets presented on Oct. 26-27, Cultural Group budget presentations will proceed on Nov. 2. As Council prepares to deliberate the 2022 budget, further budget meetings will take place Nov. 16 and Dec. 6.
Coquitlam Council is scheduled to give the first three readings to the proposed budget at its Dec. 6 meeting.
Citizen Budget Input Highlights
Community priorities and input are considered when preparing the City’s budget, including the results of the Citizen Budget Survey, which showed 48% of respondents (down from 56% in 2021) want the City to keep the same funding levels for all service areas, while 28% (up from 20% in 2021) want it to increase funding.
The Citizen Budget Input process findings are consistent with those of the 2021 statistically-valid Ipsos-led Citizen Satisfaction Survey, which showed that 89% of respondents believe they receive good value for their tax dollars.
For more information on the City of Coquitlam budget process, including an infographic highlighting the input results, as well as opportunities to provide further feedback before Nov. 4, visit www.coquitlam.ca/budget.
General Manager, Finance, Lands and Police