Taxpayers can’t carry burden of budget

I usually avoid talking about taxes. Nobody likes them — I don’t, you don’t, even the governments don’t

I usually avoid talking about taxes. Nobody likes them — I don’t, you don’t, even the governments who spend so much time and effort siphoning off our hard-earned cash are probably sick of catching flak month after month, year after year just for doing what they do best. Of course this isn’t news, and you don’t need me to tell you how you feel about watching your livelihood evaporate into general revenue, but humour me while we take a look at the truly unique predicament that the City of Victoria finds itself in this year.

In a recent presentation to council on budget needs for the next five years, the best case scenario saw taxpayers absorbing a compounded rate increase of 20 per cent just to keep the city’s momentum going. That’s a 20 per cent tax increase barring any interference from a deflating tourist economy or any surprises from the city’s growing portfolio of major infrastructure projects.

The latter is particularly nerve-wracking when you consider the statistical likelihood that the Johnson Street Bridge replacement budget alone could increase by around 34 per cent before all is said and done. Depending on how efficiently the city and MMM Group can manage their money, that alone would mean an additional tax hike of around nine per cent per year for three years.

According to a recent report on the distribution of property taxes between residents and businesses, it’s home owners and — through landlords — renters who will bear the weight of the city’s rising expenses. While the report thankfully calls for council to halt the meteoric rise of property taxes, it also recommends shifting the burden from businesses to residents by decreasing the proportion of city taxes paid by business from 49.4 per cent to 48 per cent over three years.

The city is stuck between a rock and a hard place. With businesses disappearing in the wake of continuing economic decline, and residents fleeing the capital in search of a more reasonable cost of living, Victoria’s tax base evaporates while remaining residents demand more from local government in return for their investment.

There is no single solution to balancing the budget, but I can’t help but wonder if a bit of patience, prudence and humility won’t yield better results than sqeezing ever more coin out of an already strapped tax base. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Ballet Victoria is honouring Rosemarie Liscum, the president of the board of directors who was instrumental in the building the dance company. Liscum died earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Ballet Victoria)
Rosemarie Liscum remembered as dedicated, instrumental builder of Victoria Ballet

The president of the ballet company’s board of directors died at the age of 59

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

A writer studying in England drew from her roots growing up in Sooke for a story that’s been short-listed for a prestigious international prize.
Former Sooke resident up for prestigious writing award

Cara Marks earns nomination for the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Three Legged Dog Productions performed Jesus Christ Superstar in 2019. Tim Penney photo
Non-profit plans musical renaissance in the Comox Valley

Three Legged Dog Productions is preparing for a summer residency at Filberg Park

View Gallery curator Chai Duncan admires the work of graduating visual art student Hailin Zhang, one of the artists in the upcoming End Marks grad show. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)
VIU visual art grad show presented as virtual gallery tour due to COVID-19

‘End Marks’ exhibition is on display from April 29 to May 30

Most Read