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City budget report recommends 7.94 per cent tax increase

Prince George’s Standing Committee on Finance and Audit was provided with the Operating Budget Guidelines: 2024 – 2026 report which they received for information only.

This provides high-level background information related to the City of Prince George Year 2024 to 2026 operating budget expense “drivers” and revenue sources. The report shows the proposed tax increases, plus previous years information, as well as comparisons to other municipalities.

The report shows a 5.88% tax increase however since the report was written, updated information from BC Assessment indicates the proposed rate increase would be 6.24 per cent, which is an approximately $159.12 tax increase for the representative property (2023 representative property valued at $460,049). There is also a recommendation for service enhancements, including four new RCMP staff and seven fire protection staff, which would mean an additional tax increase of 1.70% if approved for a total increase of 7.94 per cent.

The Finance and Audit Committee also approved a motion to consider an additional $300,000 to Road Rehabilitation which, if approved by Council in January, would add an additional 0.23% to the tax levy.

This rate increase includes the recently amended Sustainable Finance Policy to include a one per cent increase to the tax levy per year to transfer to infrastructure reserves to address the city’s asset reinvestment needs. One per cent of the 2023 tax levy is $1,292,482 which brings the proposed 2024 General Infrastructure Reinvestment Levy to $4,242,482.

  • Tax increases over the last three years are still approximately 4.5 per cent behind inflation
  • Of the city’s peer communities (Chilliwack, Coquitlam, Kamloops, Kelowna, Maple Ridge, Nanaimo, Saanich, Victoria), Prince George’s tax increases over the last three years are the lowest, and of those who have released their draft 2024 numbers, Prince George is also the lowest.

Capital Projects

The Finance & Audit Committee recommended approval of the projects listed within the Draft 2024-2028 Capital Plan report. Approval of capital project early in the budget process allows procurement to begin now to meet deadlines for work to be done in the spring.

The report highlights there are two new debt-funded projects being proposed for 2024: the Hart Sewage Lift Station replacement with a budget of $7.3 million and stormwater system renewal at $2.55 million.

The 2024 – 2028 Capital Plan was received for information with no changes and Council will consider it for final approval during budget meetings in January.

Budget survey feedback shared

The Finance & Audit Committee received a report about the community engagement findings for the 2024 budget.

The report explains that this year budget consultation opportunities were hosted on the City’s website, and shared broad through news releases, social media, newsletters, and advertising. Consultation this year was done through three in-person town hall meetings and digital channels including five satisfaction surveys, the annual Citizen Budget survey and comments received on social media.

The Citizen Budget survey results are also featured in the report, which shows the 620 validated participants collectively indicated their desire to keep budgets the same in eight of the 13 budget areas. Roads, sidewalks, and storm drainage are seen as the top three budget priorities.

Council will give consideration of all of this feedback as they consider the 2024 budget.

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