Tom Walker is hoping to cut home owners some slack in the North Cowichan’s budget for 2018.
The North Cowichan councillor intends to make a motion at an upcoming council meeting asking for a staff report on the distribution of property taxes among the 10 different classifications in the municipality.
Walker said his intent is to try and relieve some of the financial burden on residential property owners after the municipality announced earlier this month that it is planning a tax increase of 2.61 per cent in 2018.
The municipality’s final deadline for finalizing its budget for 2018 is May 15, and Walker said the next step in the process is for council to determine how the planned 2.61 per cent tax increase will be distributed among all the tax classes.
“I’d like to see the budget tweaked a little to lower the tax increase for residences, but the question is which of the other tax classes would pick up the balance of the tax increase,” Walker said.
In 2016, North Cowichan reduced its light-industrial tax rates by 15 per cent to make them more competitive with other jurisdictions in the province.
But Walker said heavy industry and some of the other tax classes, including residential, were required to pick up the balance of the taxes to accommodate that decision.
“I think the pendulum has now swung too far in the other direction on taxation among the classes, and I’d like to hear what the rest of council has to say on this,” he said.
“We should be reviewing our tax rate ratios every few years to determine exactly what their implications are. I’d like to see a staff report prepared on this, which would include comparisons of tax rates with other municipalities, tabled by the end of March.”
The municipality’s goal in its five-year financial plan is to keep the annual tax increase below three per cent.
But that has proven challenging during each annual budget season because it’s typical that a two per cent increase in taxes is guaranteed every year due to inflation and wage increases for staff, which are contractually mandatory.