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Victoria tax increase will deliver another blow to affordability

Unless city council sharpens its pencils, the poorest amongst us will face the greatest property tax hikes.

Unless city council sharpens its pencils, the poorest amongst us will face the greatest property tax hikes.

Victoria council recently tabled the 2023 draft budget that calls for a property tax lift of almost nine per cent. Staff has now been asked to return with a proposal that reflects a 6.96 per cent increase for the city and VicPD. It’s still too high.

Isn’t there in-house expertise among the 1,000 or so employees to look at new off-leash dog parks instead of spending $400,000? ‘People and Culture’, whatever that is, is wanting a 38 per cent budet increase? Isn’t a 20 per cent increase to $1.8 million for the communications and engagement department a little rich?

It’s alarming when you drill down to the core of Greater Victoria, to find the City of Victoria itself recorded $60,000 median after-tax household income in 2020. It’s the lowest household income figure regionally we could find in the 2021 census. It’s also concerning when you consider that the Victoria Census Metropolitan Area has a median after-tax household income of only $75,500.

By the way, a significant number of homeless live in Victoria who aren’t likely accounted for in the income tabulation. As the de facto regional police force, city taxpayers also pay the lion’s share of policing and issues around social disorder.

So, if you are a homeowner you will be hit with increased property taxes.

If you rent you will probably see increases given that landlords need to pay for maintenance, insurance, taxes, etc., and still make a return on their investment. With rent increases capped by the province at two per cent annually, there’s little incentive for landlords to provide or build housing.

If you are unfortunate enough to operate a business, your final commercial tax bill will be 3.64 times as much as a residential property per $1,000 worth of assessment.

If you consume goods and services, the businesses will be collecting more money from you, the customer.

Just compare the median after-tax median household income in Highlands ($105,000), North Saanich ($104,000), Oak Bay ($93,000), Saanich ($83,000), and Langford ($82,000). Sidney, populated by a high number of seniors, recorded $68,000.

Why does Victoria feel free to ignore the reality of these challenging economic times? Voters are flabbergasted that hiking property taxes by nine per cent in the City of Victoria is even a starting point of discussion.

The new council needs a stern reminder of the large income disparity and ability to pay compared to all the neighbouring municipalities.

Stan Bartlett, vice-chair

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria