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Tax increase awaits Esquimalt property owners
Esquimalt council has approved a 3.9 per cent municipal tax increase for residents and business owners in the township.
Residential property owners will pay on average $2,025 this year, representing a $78 increase.
Businesses, which are taxed three times higher than residents, will each pay an average of $9,715, an increase of $76.
Council approved the tax rates and financial plan bylaws this week.
In addition to the municipality’s share, property owners will have to pay for high taxes for transit, school board, the province and the Capital Regional District, among others.
Esquimalt council and staff considered different taxation scenarios during the budget process.
“Council did weigh out all the decisions and it chose not to look at service cuts,” said Mayor Barb Desjardins.
The township pays solely for several of its own amenities, including the Esquimalt Recreation Centre, Archie Browning Sports Centre and fire department services.
It also covers 14 per cent of the policing bill it shares with Victoria, and this year council decided to contribute about $230,000 less than the department requested.
Other costs, such as previously negotiated staff wage increases, also had to be considered in the budget process.
“I know staff did a really hard job at cutting whatever was extra to get us to where we were,” Desjardins said, adding they trimmed council and staff allowances for travel, education and conferences, for example.
“There was a lot of cutting to the edge.”
The tax hike is part of a disturbing ongoing trend in Esquimalt, said Tim Morrison, co-chair of the Esquimalt Residents Association.
“Unfortunately, it’s becoming more and more difficult to afford to own a home in Esquimalt,” he said.
“(Some residents) are still paying their property taxes from last year if they’re on a monthly installment,” Morrison said, adding it’s a huge burden, considering other rising tax increases on the same bill.
“This is one more kick in the stomach.”
Esquimalt tax notices will be mailed out May 18. Payments are due and homeowner grants must be applied for by July 4.
Esquimalt tax increases:
• 2011: 3.9%
• 2010: 3.9%
• 2009: 5.02%
• 2008: 5.5%
• 2007: 7.5%