North Cowichan must not increase 2015 taxes

Maple Bay – Open letter to the Municipality of North Cowichan on assessments and property taxes. I live in Lakeview subdivision. My wife and I have lived in the Cowichan Valley for 34 years. We moved to our current location seven years ago in order to specifically accommodate and care for an elderly parent with dementia and a brain tumour (who has recently died) as well as provide accommodation for a person with debilitating mental illness. I am retired, aged 65, on fixed income.

I have just completed my annual review of my assessment and property taxes. While we live in a larger than average home it is still under mortgage.

This letter is not about analyzing my financial situation and what actions we should undertake to make appropriate adjustments. This letter is to exemplify how our municipality has imposed an unreasonable tax burden on the average middle class property owners in North Cowichan.

Based upon the last seven years

(2007-2014) our successive municipal councils have increased our property taxes a total of 48 per cent or six to seven per cent a year calculated in a simple average.

This increase is of course skewed by the 2012 council’s decision for a massive residential tax increase to give the Catalyst pulp mill a tax break. I stood before council in that year to protest this decision as being the wrong course of action and I will stand by that position for a number of reasons.

This grossly unreasonable increase has occurred during a very tough economic time globally when many people had to deal with little and no increases in their annual net income.

In terms of dollars, and based upon the term of ownership of this particular house (2007-2014) our annual property taxes have been raised from $3,364 to last year’s $4,966, an annual increase of $1,602. This seven year increase is double the amount that my pension has been indexed. Basically stated, I am going in the hole based upon property tax increases alone. This of course does not deal with

the other levels of government and our Crown corporations that seem to think the money pit is bottomless.

Our returning mayor has gone on record during the recent municipal election stating that he thinks we should apply modest increases (whatever that means) in property taxes or our municipality will stagnate (again whatever that means). Other council members ran on a platform of fiscal restraint. I am appealing to our new council to show us residential property taxpayers the utmost respect this coming year by directing staff to manage this year’s budgets so as to ensure there is no increase in our property taxes. It can be done; all that is needed is just a change in mindset and make the tough decisions.

We are not a bottomless money pit. If the municipality wants more tax dollars then I suggest that council focus on growing the overall tax base not growing individual taxpayer contributions.

Bryan Wallis Maple Bay