Business

2020 budget focuses on safety

By Don Fennell

Published 11:01 PST, Wed December 11, 2019

Last Updated: 3:56 PST, Wed January 22, 2020

With safety top of mind, Richmond city council has approved a 2020 operating budget that will see the average household pay an extra $87 in taxes.

A 4.98 per cent budget increase will provide for 12 additional fire-rescue positions and 12 police officers and five support staff for the local RCMP. Increasing the number of community safety positions is part of a three-year Safe Community Priority Program endorsed last year, and will result in the total addition of 36 fire-rescue positions, 51 police officers and 20 municipal employees to support the RCMP detachment to Richmond by 2021. Seventy-one per cent of the 2020 operating budget increase is to enhance community safety.

“We’re providing the services people have come to expect, and we’re able to fund the capital projects that we need to have,” says Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

Coun. Michael Wolfe says he’s pleased the budget enables the city to support police with additional staff, as well as increase the number of fire-rescue positions. Coun. Kelly Greene adds, “staff has done a very good job pinpointing where we need to make investments and where we can trim.”

The proposed budget also recognizes evolving social issues, says Coun. Linda McPhail, noting the inclusion of a new regular full-time homeless co-ordinator and two regular full-time librarian positions specializing in youth services.

“Our community expects support for our vulnerable population,” she says.

Council approved a capital budget of $157 million, including $27.5 million for Capstan Station construction funded through developer contributions. It will also provide a number of infrastructure improvements to Richmond’s dike system as well as prepare for expansion of the city’s cycling network, land acquisition, additional support for child care programming and affordable housing, as well as road, drainage and pump station improvements. 

Among the one-time expenditures are two temporary full-time bylaw officers dedicated to short-term rental licensing, and a temporary full-time licensing clerk specific to short-term boarding and lodging. A new automated material handling system and redesigned book return wall for Brighouse library, along with development of a Steveston Harbour Authority archway sign to recognize the community’s rich fishing heritage, were also included.

Richmond had the fourth lowest tax rate amongst Metro Vancouver’s 21 municipalities last year, and was the fifth lowest in 2018.  

In accordance with the community charter, the city will undertake a process of public consultation on the proposed consolidated five-year financial plan (2020-2024) commencing in January 2020.

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