Letters: Standing by tax increase numbers

District of Sooke mayor responds to questions on property taxes

Tom Myrick writes in the June 11 Sooke News Mirror that “Council has chosen to mislead Sooke residents about our tax increase.”

For whatever reason Mr. Myrick chooses to mislead the readers using only the tax rate to calculate the percentage increase, conveniently forgetting the other half of the equation which is the assessed value.  As our tax notice which was prepared by our Director of Finance, a Chartered Accountant, clearly states, you multiply the tax rate times the assessed value to arrive at the amount of taxes to be paid.  This year we determined that we were going to increase the total amount of taxes collected by .21 per cent as compared to 2013 ($6,183,335 in 2014 compared to $6,170,311 in 2013). In 2014 the average assessed value of a residential property decreased to $334,762 from $345,813 and the average commercial property valued decreased from $491,878 to $461,924.

Obviously to collect the same level of taxes as collected in 2013 plus .21 per cent we had to increase the tax rate. That same situation applies to 2012 and 2013. KPMG have audited the financial statements of the district for 2012, 2013, years prior and have confirmed that we are using accepted accounting principles.

Of the total property tax you pay, only 40 per cent is applied directly to municipal services. Your final tax bill includes taxes we collect on behalf of and transfer directly to the Library, BC Transit, CRD, Regional Hospital, School, BC Assessment Authority and the Municipal Finance Authority, amounts which we have no control over. What we have had control over and have achieved with a lot of hard work by our professional staff and council are tax increases in 2012 of 0 per cent, 2013 of 1.57% per cent and 2014 .21% per cent for a three year total of 1.78 per cent for the District of Sooke.

I would like Mr. Myrick to point to any other municipality in B.C. that has achieved this. Yes, Mr. Myrick is correct the tax rate has increased but the assessed values have decreased so you the tax payer are paying 1.78 per cent more dollars in Sooke district taxes than you did in 2011.

I invite Mr. Myrick to meet with our Director of Finance and learn about how the level of taxation and the resulting amounts are determined.

We have accomplished this while setting aside $50,000 a year for a seniors’/youth building, increasing funding to emergency services, purchasing property for road right- of-way and construction of Wadams Way, as well as ensuring funds are in place for the construction of the roundabout. In addition, we hope to see construction start on a portion of the Sooke Road sidewalk from Otter Point Road to Village Foods Mall in September. This will be phase one of a four phase project to complete sidewalks in the core from Church Road to Otter Point.

I hope this clarifies how tax increases are determined.

Wendal Milne

Mayor

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