Esquimalt tax hike pegged at 0.5 per cent

Increase means an extra $12 per household

Residents of Esquimalt will pay an extra $12 per household on their municipal taxes this year following council’s approval of a 0.5 per cent tax increase.

The green light was recently given to the 2017 budget of $42.6 million, which includes $7.6 million for capital costs and infrastructure improvements.

Leading up to the approval Monday night, Acting Mayor Beth Burton-Krahn said many property owners had expressed concern about their new assessments, which have jumped by approximately 15 per cent.

“We have tried to keep the increase low due to the high assessments that have come in while still working to both maintain service levels, put money into our reserve accounts and have funds available for capital projects as well,” said Burton-Krahn, noting several developments will take shape this year, including the Esquimalt Town Square and splash park on Fraser Street.

“Esquimalt can still provide the same level of services residents have come to expect as well as put some money into our reserve accounts.”

According to a staff report, property taxes account for approximately 40 per cent of the township’s revenue. The other major source is Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), which is provided by the federal government for the CFB Esquimalt properties, and accounts for approximately 32 per cent of total revenue.

The report notes the township’s tax rates are difficult to compare with other municipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD) since it provides its own police, fire, recreation and library services, which are either cost-shared or provided on a volunteer basis by other municipalities. The township also has a limited retail base and comparably lower assessed values than other municipalities, therefore it must fund higher costs through fewer sources, which results in higher tax rates.

The average assessment of a single family home in Esquimalt for 2017 is pegged at $556,000 compared to $483,000 last year, according to BC Assessment. Oak Bay has the highest assessment in the region at $1,036,000, followed by the District of Saanich at $836,000.

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