The City of Victoria will likely alter its tax rates in 2022 to evenly spread tax increases among all property types.
While the finance department recommended the city stay the course with the current policy of equal tax rates for all businesses, council on Thursday supported lowering the rate for certain sectors and all property classes facing a 3.89-per-cent increase this year.
That current policy aligned the business tax rate with that of major and light industries. Jo-Ann O’Conner, the city’s deputy finance director, said that’s been used to signal the city’s support for the industrial sector, which has historically faced higher tax rates.
The shift saves the Point Hope Maritime shipyard, Victoria’s lone major industry site, from an almost 10 per cent tax hike this year. At last week’s (April 21) committee meeting, Mayor Lisa Helps said she wanted to see the policy change because the shipyard provides well-paying jobs in the community.
“I think it’s the kind of business that we want to keep here,” she said.
The change would result in marginal differences for residents and businesses. Under the current proposed tax increase, the average residential property (with an assessed value of $966,000) and a typical business were set to pay $104 and $262 more for taxes, respectively. The approved option for equalizing tax increases across the board would raise those amounts by a loonie for residences and $3 for businesses.
Victoria’s three light industrial properties include a window company, an asphalt facility and a brewpub. They would’ve faced an increase of more than seven per cent this year if council didn’t amend its rates.
Coun. Jeremy Loveday proposed, at the April 28 daytime council meeting, the city go with the equalized option because it would provide meaningful relief for light and heavy industry with little impact on residences and businesses.
“These sites are where high-quality, good-paying jobs are often created, this is also where our creative industries and sustainable innovation is happening,” he said.
Two other options were given to council. One would have seen residential taxpayers dish out just $17 more while shifting the burden to businesses by costing them an extra $617. A fourth option would decrease business taxes by $86 and make the residential increase $225.
The looming 3.89-per-cent tax increase comes as assessed values are up in the capital city. Average assessed values of residential properties increased by 15.85 per cent, with businesses going up by 5.63 per cent.
The city must approve its tax bylaw by May 15.
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