Now that our tax bills are available for Saanich residents, reflecting a 5.2 per cent increase for the average household, we thought it was the right time to consider if Saanich council is out of touch with its taxpayers.
Many on Saanich council included housing affordability in their election platforms and now seem unable to grasp how this sort of tax increase affects that issue. This increase will be directly borne by renters including students and the struggling homeowner who simply wants their own property to call home.
It is shocking how many of the councillors have forgotten their pledges during the fall election campaign. In reality, the council is getting worse at managing the municipality’s money.
Last year, council raised taxes 3.07 per cent, and this year 3.7 per cent before adding on the Employer Health Tax costed at 1.5 per cent. This is an increase of 20.5 per cent over last year, 69.4 per cent if we add on the downloaded Employer Health Tax.
On top of that, the real costs of 18 new staff will drive that number up even higher. They include wage costs for at most six months because that is how much time is actually left in the year 2019. Next year the real costs of these new positions kick in. This is very similar to the company that sells you the product by offering it for 50 per cent for the first six months and then hits you will the full cost.
In the end, what are we getting for this large tax increase? After all, there’s only one taxpayer – all costs, deferred or otherwise, end up with residents or with local businesses as tax collectors, added to the costs they must pass on to their customers.
For councillors who expressed surprise at the lack of public engagement around the budget discussions, they need to understand they provided even less opportunities to get involved this year than last. By holding the meetings during the work day they effectively excluded working people. At least one councillor had to leave himself because of work commitments which should speak to the issue.
Last year Saanich was told after consultation that people would get involved if Saanich provided more online and other interactive methods to do so. Yet they have done virtually nothing to address that.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria