In a recent news story the mayor is quoted as saying the 2.44 per cent increase in property taxes in Chilliwack this year is the lowest annual increase since she was elected to council. Not so. Ms. Gaetz was elected as a councilor in 1996, a year when the tax increase was zero. In 1997 the increase was 1.85 per cent, and in 1998, 1.80 per cent.
It’s also important to point out that the 2.44 per cent increase this year is more than double the current rate of inflation, which was 0.9 per cent for 2013. Every time the rate of property taxation increase significantly exceeds the rate of inflation, the mayor’s fingers just edge a little deeper into your wallet!
Keep in mind that all the new homes and businesses being built in the community also create additional annual new tax revenue. Curiously this is never highlighted. When you combine this new tax revenue with the tax rate increase, I predict the result is a significant increase of more than $2 million in spending, which is another useful way for taxpayers to understand what’s going on.
I am aware that at least one city in the Lower Mainland is passing along a small tax decrease this year.
The mayor also delights in reminding us all that we enjoy low rates of taxation in Chilliwack. While that may still be true, it is important to compare apples to apples. Garbage collection is not included in our property tax bills in Chilliwack, but is collected with our water and sewer bills. In other communities, garbage collection is simply paid for through property taxation. So, for a true comparison, the mayor should add the cost of garbage collection to the tax bill to arrive at a fair comparison with other communities.