Council approves 13.6 per cent tax hike

Council approves a substantial residential tax hike

Taxes are going up 13.6 per cent this year.

Council adopted the residential tax increase at Tuesday night’s financial planning meeting.

The increase translates to $160.76 more per year, based on the average home assessed at $268,000.

While that number may look like a lot, the increase will be offset by a decrease in the cost of user fees (no water parcel tax and a $20 reduction in garbage fees), so homeowners will actually see an overall increase of 7.10 per cent in their property taxes. Last year, residential taxes increased by four per cent while business taxes went up half a per cent.

In 2012, the business sector was spared from a tax hike, as was all other tax sectors.

Coun. Mary Storry made the motion to increase property taxes.

“I made the motion because overall I’m very confident with the information we’ve received,” Storry said. “Certainly the input from the community was greater this year than ever before.”

Storry said that unless she had been opposed to half of the recommendations council put forward through the two-month long budget planning process, it was incumbent upon her to support the motion.

Coun. Claire Moglove reminded everyone that council had come a long way since December when the city was looking at a $3.6 million deficit made up of an increase of $700,000 to offset increases in wages, replacement of $1.1 million used from reserves in 2011, and a $1.8 million reduction in taxation revenue due to the Catalyst property reclassification.

Moglove also said council had had an extensive debate on identifying core services and choosing cuts from the budget that would not hurt the community, such as closing the Sportsplex.

That left a tax increase.

“Is this a perfect solution? No,” Moglove said. “It’s a balance of everything everyone on council has come to the table with. Do I want a 13.6 per cent tax increase? No. But I vote to maintain (our) services.”

Not everyone shared Moglove’s opinion.

Coun. Ron Kerr was clear that he was not happy with council’s decision.

“I’m extremely disappointed in this budget,” Kerr said. “I did not run for election to maintain the status quo. I think this budget sends the wrong message. I’m disappointed.”

For more on this story, see Friday’s Mirror.