City of Victoria hiding true tax increases

Rainwater utility debate begins later this fall, and residents should care

Re: City predicts balanced budget (News, Oct. 4)

It will be interesting to see if the City of Victoria can keep to its commitment to hold property tax increases to 3.25 per cent.

Alas, one concerning trend hitting many cities across B.C., Victoria included, is the shifting of costs from the property tax bill to the utility bill.

The latest in this trend is the plan for the rainwater tax to become a rainwater utility starting in 2014.

The city finance department informs me that for my property, the current rainwater fee is about 4.2 per cent of my total property tax bill (but hidden in the line item “general”).

Will the city commit to a maximum tax increase of 3.25 per cent which is based on the net amount of property taxes excluding the amount people now pay for the rainwater fee as it currently appears in the 2013 tax bill? That is, the 2014 tax bill should not simply be 3.25 per cent higher than the total 2013 bill, otherwise we would be paying double for the rainwater fee, and the city would effectively be implementing a 7.8-per-cent tax increase.

The city has been promising public consultation on the new rainwater fee since spring 2012, with the latest plan to hold meetings some time this fall. The public should certainly attend these meetings, if they ever happen.

Roel Hurkens