REVISED JAN. 6, 2022

Are you getting good value for your property tax dollar?
 
It’s early January and that can mean only one thing, it’s the start of tax season and paying for the valuable services we receive.
 
While tax notices (invoices) are issued in mid-May, and tax payments due on the first business day after July 1st, councils are now preparing budgets and residents are bracing and stretching their thin personal budgets.
 
Neighbourhood municipalities have already signaled tax increases. Sooke council approved a property tax increase of 6.09 per cent on Dec. 14. The City of Victoria has indicated a 3.25 per cent hike.
 
So how do you figure out if you are paying too much property tax compared to your friends? If you’re a business owner how much more than a residential owner are you coughing up? Most importantly, are you getting good value for your tax dollar?
 
TOOL #1: We prepared the 2021 tax rates for all 13 neighbourhood municipalities which are now available for the residential, commercial and other classes. As well, there are ratios for major industry, light industrial, and business to residential.
 
For example, at the very top of the list you will find what the tax rate for Central Saanich that includes a portion for the municipality, region, hospital, schools and others. Its tax rate total is 5.00720, which is multiplied by every $1,000 in assessment. Residents with a house assessed at $800,000 would pay $4,005 (800 x 5.00720) in total property taxes. A business owner with the same assessment would pay $9,762 (800 x 12.20339).
 
If you don’t like the amount you are paying, ask your mayor or councillor the reason why. There are sometimes legitimate reasons – you are getting more services, your municipality is receiving a large payment in lieu of taxes from the federal government for an airport or a large payment for a naval base.
 
TOOL #2: A good portion of your municipal property tax and rate includes policing, around 20 per cent. If you live in a jurisdiction policed by the RCMP, there are a number of reasons you may want to pay attention.
 
The RCMP are now unionized and significant wages increases will give them close to parity with municipal forces. Now that the contract is signed taxpayers owe RCMP staff several years of back pay, in addition to annual increase.
 
Secondly, under the Police Act, it is a municipal responsibility to pay for policing – it’s unfair for the province/feds to provide E-Comm dispatch services for free to some municipalities (those policed by the RCMP) while not doing so for those with municipal forces. This year eight municipalities on the South Island will finally be picking up all those costs instead of being subsidized by their urban cousins.
 
For 2020 – the most recent figures available – Grumpy Taxpayer$ has analyzed policing costs in Greater Victoria. Various aspects are compared, from police strength to costs per capita.
 
The average municipality in the region pays 20.5 per cent of its operating budget on policing. That said, Metchosin pays 5.2 per cent and Highlands 5.9, compared to Victoria and Esquimalt that pay a combined 24.5 per cent. Central Saanich on the other hand pays 18.9 per cent of its operating budget on policing.
 
 
Available for Media Interviews:
 
John Treleaven, Chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$ 
treleavengroup@shaw.ca 
250.656.7899, cell 250.588.7899
 
Stan Bartlett, Vice-chair, Grumpy Taxpayer$
grumpytaxpayers@gmail.com  
250-477-9907
 
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