There is a ton of information about the budget on the SCRD website, (including a video by CFO Tina Perrault) so I’m just going to share a few words from a presentation I made to the Elphinstone Community Association.
Why do property taxes keep going up?
Glad you asked. In short, municipal taxes are rising because they weren’t high enough in the past. We built a ton of infrastructure, such as roads, water systems, sewer systems, and public buildings without putting aside money for their long term repair and replacement. Now we have infrastructure nearing the end of its life, and we’re facing big costs.
People who bought their homes decades ago paid for the original development costs, but they did not pay towards long term maintenance. So now we have increases that are very hard on people with fixed incomes and on young families who are caught between the rock of huge mortgages and the hard place of rising taxes.
Where does the SCRD’s money come from?
A quarter of the SCRD’s costs are recovered through fees, such as planning application fees. Grants from senior government make up 11%. Most of the rest (57%) is made up of our property taxes and fees, such as the SCRD utility bill.
Where does the money go?
The biggest slice of the SCRD’s operating budget goes to Recreation and Cultural Services, a big portion of which is the cost of operating five recreation facilities (Pender Pool, Sechelt Pool, Sechelt Arena, Gibsons Pool and Gibsons Rec Centre).
The next largest cost is Water & Sewer (19%), then Transit (16%), Garbage collection and the Landfill (14%), and Fire departments (8%).
What I Paid Last Year
I got out my 2018 property tax bill and my 2018 SCRD Utility Bill. Adding them together, this is where my household’s tax money went last year. Note that the orange and green pie slices are based on assessment, so if your property value was high, you paid more. Parcel taxes and utility fees are a flat rate, so everyone on your street pays the same amount.
Provincial taxes include school tax, the provincial rural tax, and policing.
Finally, the impact has been most dramatic for people who claim the Homeowners Grant because that amount is fixed and doesn’t rise with soaring property values. Again, I looked at our household taxes and created a chart. You can see that our total property tax bill (before grants) has roughly doubled since 2003. But if we qualified for both grants, we would have seen the amount we paid more than triple.
Once again, I’d like to encourage residents to set up automatic monthly deductions for property taxes, so that you don’t get whacked by a huge bill in July. I did it myself and have shared instructions at the link above.