Tax increases unsustainable for Victoria residents

Bumping property tax by more than rate of inflation in city is unfair

Bravo to City of Victoria councillors Lisa Helps and Shelley Gudgeon for proposing a website to help taxpayers add up local government tax and fee hikes.

City council seems pleased holding city tax increases to 3.25 per cent or below for 2013, 2014 and 2015 and trimming budgets to align things more with economic reality.

In fact, for 2013 the overall tax increase allocated to the residential class is 3.96 per cent, partially because of a multi-year transfer of the business tax burden to weary residential owners. On a budget approaching $200 million, compounded annually, that’s no small potatoes.

There’s another problem. According to Statistics Canada, the year-over-year percentage change in Victoria’s Consumer Price Index to October 2013 was exactly – 0.5. Tax hikes usually align with inflation – except here there isn’t any, there’s deflation. Until there is real inflation, the city should stop raising taxes and fees and live within their means like the rest of us.

City of Victoria residents will feel the brunt of the tax and fee hikes more than anyone in the region. Councillors should remind themselves that, according to their own budget documents, Victoria residents earn about 25 per cent less than the median Capital Regional District income.

All in all, it seems like a compelling argument for amalgamation, especially when you factor in major increases in utility fees like B.C. Hydro, ferry fares, CRD contributions, MSP premiums, ICBC rates and so on. Meanwhile, more cost savings and efficiencies need to be unearthed and demanded in the City of Victoria.

Stan Bartlett

Victoria

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