Port Moody residents may want to brace for sticker shock when they open up their tax bills next year.
The preliminary city budget is projecting a property tax increase of 6.65 per cent for 2013, to make up for a $1.9million operating budget shortfall.
Homeowners can expect to pay $2,837 in total property taxes in 2013 based on the average assessed property value of $531,600.
If that figure stands, it's an extra $117 for the average Port Moody household, which includes an extra $3 in the utilities category for storm drainage services.
A further breakdown of the numbers shows the bulk of the shortfall related to an increase in salaries worth $570,000, or 1.93 per cent, and $650,000 in policing costs worth another 2.21 per cent.
Other items in the budget shortfall include $143,000 for the Inlet Centre fire hall debt levy, $192,000 for inflation, and $444,000 for operational service priorities.
Mayor Mike Clay said he expects residents to "freak out" when they see the number.
But he's quick to put much of the city's budget woes on previous administrations.
"We're paying the price for having unsustainable financial plans in the city for a long time," he told The NOW, following a finance committee meeting Tuesday night to discuss the budget.
He argued the city was growing in double-digit numbers, and previous councils were relying on that growth to fund the operating budget.
Clay suggested when the growth stopped the city didn't have a plan to move forward in leaner times.
"We didn't have a good sustainable funding model," he said.
"We're catching up now for a plan that was built on a house of cards."
Clay maintained Port Moody has made strides in some areas, noting the city's sustain-able waste-recycling model brought in six years ago, which will essentially see a zero increase this year.
He also suggested there could be room to knock off about one per cent of the proposed tax increase in upcoming budget deliberations.
The city is also planning to perform municipal service assessments, which are essentially reviews of various departments to see where efficiencies can be found to save money.
But Clay noted any trimming of the fat would only be noticed in the 2014 budget.
The next steps for the budget include a public participation process set for January, with more budget deliberations and the adoption of the tax rates bylaw by May 2013.
Earlier this week, Coquitlam announced it would be putting forward its lowest average tax increase in more than a decade at 3.34 per cent.