Colwood city council voted to give the next council a 7.5 per cent pay increase following the federal government's decision to eliminate the 1/3 tax free allowance normally afforded to councillors. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Colwood votes on property tax increase that could be as high as 9.3%

Council to discuss the increase Monday night

Colwood council is set to vote on what could be a noticeable property tax increase during its May 10 meeting.

Between regular property tax increases, added services and regional taxes for the library and parks, homeowners could be looking at a 9.3 per cent increase over last year.

Coun. Doug Kobayashi, said he doesn’t think his colleagues saw the big sum coming because they were presented as separate increases for different line items. The final staff report was released May 6. He thinks they’ll be reeling from sticker shock at the Monday night meeting, and hopes it will make them amenable to other options.

A final budget must legally be filed by May 15. Tax notices will be calculated and issued to Colwood landowners by the end of the month, and are due July 2.

The bulk of the expenses were agreed to last year before the impact of the pandemic was really known. Things like park improvements and some beautification, a new IT system and accompanying staff person, and a new sewer inspection equipment.

READ MORE: Colwood pitches $100 property tax hike

All the expenses are good, necessary things for the city, Kobayashi says, but says they can wait. There’s nothing in there that affects safety or well-being of residents, except for one expense to hire a new social worker to support youth experiencing difficulty, which Kobayashi supports.

”We’ve got to show empathy here. COVID-19 hasn’t treated everyone equally by any means. You just have to talk to our own citizens,” he said. “There are people who still aren’t fully back to work.”

The solution is in the calculation between business taxes and residential taxes.

Colwood has high commercial property taxes compared to neighbouring municipalities, and last year decided they needed to become more competitive. That means residential taxes would take on a higher load. But at the same time, BC Assessment valued commercial properties lower than the year before, which results in a lower tax rate as well. The rates are set as a dollar amount per $1,000 assessed value.

Kobayashi wants to set a floating multiplier, the function that balances the proportion of taxes paid by commercial and residential property owners, so that residential owners don’t shoulder so much of the increase this year.

The meeting starts at 6:30 online.

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