Colwood council received a crash course on tax rates during Monday’s meeting, ultimately backpedalling on a previous decision to decrease the business tax ratio, and will also look for more budget cuts in two emergency budget meetings this week ahead of the May 15 deadline.
The tax plan proposed at the May 10 council meeting would have increased property tax for the typical Colwood home by 9.3 per cent or roughly $171.
The sticker shock of that number caused council to re-evaluate the business ratio — the number municipalities use to multiply the residential property rate by, so businesses pay a higher share of taxes. Colwood’s business ratio is higher than other cities, and since 2019 they’ve been trying to bring it down to match neighbouring municipalities.
In April, council told city staff to use 3.93 as the multiplier but at Monday’s meeting, council decided to go with 4.17.
“We have to recognize that any tax we don’t take from businesses we take from residents, and I think this year we have to be a bit gentler on residents, if we can say that,” said Coun. Stewart Parkinson.
He said Monday that he hadn’t realized the impact of the business ratio, and on seeing the sum result, supported a move to shift some of the tax burden back towards businesses, especially considering the “smoking good deal” businesses got last year.
That change makes for an eight per cent increase on property taxes for the average Colwood home.
But eight per cent is still too high said Coun. Doug Kobayashi.
He recommended more cuts from the shopping list of items that he said can wait another year — parks work, beautification, IT investments, sewer equipment and more.
The actual property tax increase is still to be determined with the Friday deadline looming.
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