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City votes to hike taxes 2.26 per cent in deficit faceoff

Vancouver homeowners will pay an additional $65 on average in property taxes in 2010.

Vancouver homeowners will pay an additional $65 on average in property taxes in 2010.

City council approved Vancouver’s 2010 operating budget on Friday. It calls for an increase in taxes of 2.26 per cent. Combined with a business-to-residential tax shift, it means homeowner taxes will rise by more than four per cent.

In a release, Mayor Gregor Robertson said the budget protected city priorities like homelessness and the environment despite a difficult financial situation.

Dr. Penny Ballem, Vancouver’s city manager, announced in November that the city was staring down the barrel of a $62-million deficit brought on by declining revenues and increasing salaries, debt and operating costs.

She announced a number of deficit-busting measures, including a review of shared services and across-the-board fee increases.

She also said the city would trim about 160 jobs.

Virtually every city department felt the pinch.

The Vancouver Police Department delayed hiring more officers, while in a controversial move, the Parks Board chose to close the Bloedel Conservatory and the Stanley Park petting zoo.

The city’s library board voted to cut back on operating hours and even close the Riley Park branch.

However, council opted to increase funding to libraries, retaining the current operating hours at the main branch and keeping the Riley Park location open.

Part of the money came from savings as non-unionized workers elected to give up one per cent of a planned four per cent raise.

 
 
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