Monday, July 09, 2007

Richter Report - July 9, 2007 - Are the Property taxes Worth It? Where's the "Value for Dollar"?

Like most other residents of Langley, I paid my property taxes last week. I wasn’t impressed with having to pay what I had to pay. (I have a septic system and private well that I maintain at my own cost. I don’t get any snow removal until the sun melts it but I do have a street light and a volunteer fire hall down the road).

By accident, I pulled out my 2001 property tax statement from the “House” file before I went to pay my taxes. To say I was amazed would be an understatement especially since I have not supported any of the tax increases that have led us to what I believe is a rapidly escalating and unsustainable taxation position.

On Tuesday July 3, 2001, I paid $1000.00 less property taxes than I paid this year. My property taxes then were $2521.79. On Tuesday July 3, 2007, my property taxes were $3569.10 – a 41.5% increase. Hard to believe it was only 6 years ago. I have made no improvements to my property during that time period and I live in an area of the Township where there is a moratorium on development.

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $59.71 for the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority (Translink). This year I paid $226.75 - a 279.75% increase (Please note this is almost 300% or 50% per year). For what? (There’s no LRT in Langley nor will there be until well after 2031 according to the latest Translink plan for south of the Fraser).

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $31.69 for GVRD. This year I paid $44.40 – a 40.1% increase. For what? (The Mayor and his Alternate now get $200+ for attending each meeting).

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $111.00 for garbage collection. This year, I paid $139.69 – a 25.8% increase. For what? (A landfill that’s exhausted and no alternative in sight).

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $.09 for the Municipal Finance Authority. This year I paid $.18 - a 100% increase. For debt in my community. I did not vote for taking on new debt but this year alone, Council approved $11 Million in new debt and there’s even more new debt forecast for next year. Six years ago, this community was just about debt free.

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $42.34 for the Regional Library. This year, I paid $75.58 – a 75.5% increase. However, we did open 2 new libraries in Langley.

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid nothing for Storm Water. This year, I am paying $107.75. A 107% increase mainly to fix problems stemming from new development. Don’t believe anyone who says “New development pays for itself”. It doesn’t.

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $1082.97 for school taxes. This year I paid $1324.46 – a 22.3% increase. Compared to Township tax increases, this seems almost reasonable.

On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $36.11 for the BC Assessment Authority. This year I paid $41.64 – a 15.3% increase to tell me I can’t afford my property anymore even though I’ve lived here 20+ years. But it’s reassuring to note the compassion expressed in this year’s Township of Langley “Frequently Asked Questions About Municipal Taxes” document which states: “It must also be remembered that taxes are based on wealth, and the perceived ability to pay. It is generally understood that those who own homes with high assessment values would be able to access that wealth by selling their home.”

So here’s the real kicker: On July 3, 2001 (6 years ago), I paid $1157.88 for general purposes Township Taxes. This year I paid $1608.65 – a 38.9% increase or 6.5% per year. I certainly haven’t had a 38.9% increase in wages from either of my jobs but according to the Township, I can always sell my home and leave just like a lot of other long time residents. What choice do we have?

In my area of the Township, there’s definitely been a major property tax increase (40+%) over the last 6 years. For all of this extra property tax, what do we have to show for it? Are we really getting value for dollar?

I don’t think so. Do you?

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