Richmond’s 2020 budget continues focus on police and fire staffing and infrastructure renewal
10 December 2019
Community safety and continued investment in infrastructure are the focus of the 2020 operating budget approved by Richmond City Council last night. The budget will see more RCMP officers and fire fighters hired, reflecting the continued commitment to make Richmond a safe and resilient city.
The proposed budget increase for 2020 is 4.98 per cent including the hiring of 12 additional Fire-Rescue positions, 12 RCMP officers as well as five support staff for the local RCMP detachment. Increasing the number of community safety positions is part of the three year Safe Community Priority Program endorsed last year which will bring 36 Fire-Rescue positions, 51 RCMP 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 attributed to enhancing community safety.
In addition, the proposed budget includes a new regular full-time homelessness coordinator and two regular full-time librarian positions specializing in expanding youth services.
Council also approved a capital budget of $157.0 million including $27.5 million for Capstan Station construction funded through developer contributions. It will also provide a number of infrastructure improvements to the City’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 in the budget are two temporary full-time Bylaw Officers dedicated to short-term rental licensing, 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 tax rates are among the lowest in the region. The city had the fourth lowest tax rate amongst Metro Vancouver’s 21 municipalities last year, and was the fifth lowest in 2018. The proposed 2020 budget increase will equate to around $87 per household for an average residential property with a value of $1.13M.
In order to reduce the tax impact on residents and businesses, more aggressive non-tax revenue targets have been applied and expense budgets reduced for all City departments. It is anticipated that savings will be realized through recruitment transitions which typically result in budget savings due to the time required to post and fill vacant positions resulting from retirements, temporary leaves, or staff departures.
In accordance with the Community Charter, the City will undertake a process of public consultation on the proposed Consolidated 5 Year Financial Plan (2020-2024) commencing in January 2020.