Monday, June 30, 2008

Tax, Tax, and More Tax - Vecchiato's Voice

Tax, Tax, and More Tax
by Cathleen Chance Vecchiato
Feeling that newly assigned tax stress, the type that brings bruxism to your anxious dreams? Rest assured. You are not alone. The following was forwarded to me by another Township resident who, like others, sees our tax increases as a loonie grab. If you can make the time, join the Property Tax Protest, Wednesday, July 2nd, 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, Langley Township Hall, 20338 65 Avenue. In fact, save yourself the postage and submit your property tax form.

Property owners in Langley Township have been hit this year with the second highest tax increase in the Lower Mainland.

For the last several years, our mayor and council members have increased spending at three times the rate of inflation, even taking into account the population growth. This has created an unfair burden on homeowners in the Township, who have seen no corresponding increase in services.

Many Township residents have no access to municipal water, sewer, garbage pickup or public transit yet they are being taxed as if they lived in West Vancouver. We are concerned that our municipal government is on a spending spree, buying golf courses and restaurants at our expense.

This friendly demonstration is being held to remind our elected officials that their job is to manage our hard-earned money wisely and responsibly. You're invited to join us on the picket line, to stop by to sign a petition or to just show up to lend your support.

* * *
So where are the increases going, and what amenities or quality of life issues are we receiving? I’d like to do a random comparison, so chose 2000 for the fiscal property tax year. In 2000, a ¼-acre lot in Brookswood (land only) was assessed at $142,000. For 2008, the same was assessed for $350,000. What is relevant, however, is the increases in “services” for individuals applying for the basic home owner grant.
I calculated that my monthly payments show an increase of 13%, which will finance the following projects above and beyond what we already pay for:
·--- $40,400,000 for storm water, water and sewer projects
·--- $19,300,000 for Engineering road works
·--- $8,100,000 for Recreation, Culture, and Parks
·--- $34,500,000 for Langley Events Centre

Having worked in industries aligned with civic structure, I am well aware of Engineering’s clout and the common practice of padding one’s budget, then having to use it all, lest you receive less the following year. From my understanding, our elected officials have no say over staff issues. Muriel Arnason told me before her death that all personnel issues go through Township Hall Administrator. I can see the “Help Wanted” ad right now:
Want benefits? Do you follow directions? Are you a team player but understand all teams have a leader? Apply at the Township of Langley. You’ll be glad you did!

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