2.2% property tax increase in Victoria budget

Victoria city council finalized this year's budget, which includes a property tax increase

Victorians, get out your wallets.

Property taxes will increase by 2.2 per cent this year – the lowest increase in years.

“We wanted to keep taxes as low as possible, because I think the sentiment around the [council] table was if we’re trying to make Victoria affordable for everyone, that needs to include and be focused on our small business community and also seniors,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

Last year’s tax increase was 2.3 per cent for businesses and 2.75 per cent for residential. Before that, the increase was 3.25 per cent.

“My commitment when I ran was to keep property taxes in line with inflation. But that can’t be done in one year,” said Helps. “We need to build the tax base.”

Coun. Geoff Young, the only councillor to oppose the 2.2 per cent tax increase, felt the lower increase was not low enough.

“I believe that this would have been a good year to come in with a tax rate that was significantly below what inflation is expected to be, rather than still be above it,” he said. “I wasn’t going to suggest that we go to zero [per cent], but I certainly felt that this was a year where we could have gone below 2 per cent.”

Helps said she aims to increase taxes by less and less over council’s four-year term.

“But I think we need to balance affordability of property taxes with high quality services,” she said. “I don’t want to be known as a fiscally-conservative municipality. I want to be known as a municipality that keeps taxes in line with what people can afford and delivers great services and a high quality of life, because that’s what people want.”

On average, the 2.2 per cent tax increase will cost an extra $65 a year for residential properties assessed at $504,000.

The City of Victoria’s annual budget is set at $213 million.