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Serving Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra since 1984 WEDNESDAY December 5, 2012 11 Local police officers and firefighters make Movember fundraising history. Your source for local news, sports, opinion and entertainment: Dreamstime (left, centre) and NOW file photo (right) Highlights of the City of Coquitlam’s budget, released Monday, include more money for road repairs, the hiring of eight new firefighters, and funding for arts and culture. Tax hike of 3.34 per cent in Coquitlam Increase is lowest in nearly a decade, and includes money for city archives, fire hall on Burke Mountain Contractual inflation for city and RCMP staff figured into the increase, while public safety measures accounted for 30 per cent — or $1.5 million — of the new spending. Some of the principal cost drivers include: Fiscal conservatism and council collaborafunding to build up adequate staffing levels for tion were the buzz words as Coquitlam introfire protection services on Burke Mountain, duced its lowest average tax increase in close increased money for infrato a decade. structure maintenance and The first three readings of replacement, funds to begin the city’s 2013 budget passed a city archive program, more Monday, with the average propresources to support the city’s erty tax increased pegged at economic development pro2.95 per cent. gram, and a funding boost for Due to the city’s ongoing community groups that proefforts to adjust its commercial vide arts and cultural services tax rates, a one-per-cent tax in the city. shift was applied to the final “I’m proud of every one of numbers, resulting in a 3.34them and I’m [in agreement] per-cent increase for residential on every one of them,” Coun. properties and a 2.34-per-cent Neal Nicholson said of the increase for businesses. city’s new spending priorities. When put into perspective, “The challenge is the things the average residential home that we didn’t support, we assessed at $565,000 will pay “As a city, we’re couldn’t support. You have to about $2,911 in property taxes actually in a great decide which is most importand levies — $95 more than position this year, ant. Fire protection on Burke the 2012 numbers. Mountain, for me, was first and Of that $95 increase, $64 more than ever has been for a couple of years.” comes from taxes, while the before.” The utility increases, which remaining $31 comes from are driven predominantly by utility charges for water, sewer Metro Vancouver, include: and solid waste tipping fees. Richard Stewart a four-per-cent water rate “As a city, we’re actually in a Coquitlam Mayor increase ($16); a two-per-cent great position this year, more jump in sewerage and drainage than ever before,” said Mayor fees ($8) and a two-per-cent Richard Stewart. solid waste fee increase ($7). “We have a low budget increase. We have Prior to Monday’s vote, Coquitlam was said fiscal planning that accounts for long-term to be the largest municipality in the province community needs. We have reserves that will without an archive, a gap that Coun. Craig permit new amenities in the future.” John Kurucz Hodge in particular has looked to address. Some of the highlights of the $90 million “[The budget] offers some new spending for 2013-17 transportation plan include: some of the new growth, it increases our pro• $34 million for road enhancement tective services and I support the shift to bring • $30 million for road rehabilitation those business taxes down,” he said. • $14 million for Evergreen Line streetscape The lone councillor to oppose the budget, projects Lou Sekora, has a history of voting against • $6 million for traffic safety programs budget bylaws. • $6 million towards the He said the city is not alloKing Edward Overpass cating surplus funds properly, About $58 million in parks and also suggested he did not and recreation initiatives were receive enough information also highlighted over the next from city staff around varying five years, including: taxation levels across the city to • $18 million towards parkmake an informed decision. land acquisition “Be honest — don’t play • $13 million for park these silly kinds of games,” he development said. • $9 million for the Burke “There’s a mindset that this Mountain Fire Hall budget is great and that it’s the • $8 million towards Place best budget. I know for a fact Maillardville expansions for the next 10, 20 years you • $5 million towards energy will not bring the budget down management programs below three or four or five per • $5 million towards sports “The challenge is the cent.” fields things that we didn’t Both Stewart and Coun. “In Canada, we as the local support, we couldn’t government get eight cents Terry O’Neill were quick to counter Sekora’s points, with support. You have to of your tax dollar — 92 per O’Neill suggesting, “I don’t decide which is most cent of that goes to federal and think we have any hidden provincial governments … and important.” books at all. I think everything with that eight cents, we’re is very clear.” responsible for 60 per cent Neal Nicholson “These are great staff — they of the infrastructure,” noted Coquitlam Councillor are not hiding things,” Stewart Coun. Brent Asmundson. added. “I believe it is harder to vote “This is not a budget with in favour of a budget than fictitious numbers.” against it.” As part of Monday’s talks, five-year spending Fourth and final reading of the tax bylaw is projections were also offered in the areas of expected in the new year. transportation and parks and recreation. Give a Sylvan BOOST to your child’s report card. 604.941.9166 | COQUITLAM READING COMPREHENSION ( *&)# ( $!")"'%

Coquitlam Now December 5 2012

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