Letters: Misleading numbers

Property taxes increase in Sooke is questioned as to 'accuracy.'

In the pamphlet that came with our 2013 property tax notices, the District of Sooke states in bold letters “Building on last year’s budget of a ZERO increase in taxes, this year we are keeping the increase down to 1.57% for new capital projects and improvements in the town centre.”

My research has found that this number is calculated by taking the total amount of property taxes the District of Sooke collected in 2012 and comparing this to the total that the district will collect in 2013.  Referring to the 2012 and 2013 Five Year Financial Plans, the property taxes collected in 2012 were $5,919,812 and the property taxes that will be collected in 2013 are $6,008,987 (all totals exclude the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) share).  Indeed by comparing these numbers the district is in fact collecting 1.5 per cent more taxes in 2013 than in 2012.

Does this mean then that the individual municipal taxes each of us pay individually then have increased by only 1.5 per cent from 2012? Sadly this is not the case. Referring to the property tax notices from 2012 and 2013, beside the line item “GENERAL – Municipal,” the residential municipal property tax rate for 2012 is 2.59319, and for 2013 is 2.78289. Comparing these two numbers shows that the municipal tax rate for 2013 is in fact 7.3 per cent higher than the rate for 2012.  The actual amount you pay will vary depending on the value of your residence, but making the assumption that your residence is exactly the same value this year as last year the municipal portion you pay this year is 7.3 per cent higher than last year.

Please note that I have not included the Sewer Parcel Tax increase of $37 for residents in the Sewer Specified Area. I also could not compare 2012 to 2011 because the 2011 rate includes the VIRL share.

Property taxes are necessary for the district to provide services, and I have consistently supported infrastructure upgrades for Sooke.  I have no issues with a property tax rate increase if the District provides value for the taxpayer dollar. However, I feel that marketing the tax increase as 1.5 per cent although technically correct, is misleading to the Sooke taxpayers.

Tom Myrick

Sooke