Thursday, November 06, 2008

BC's Municipalities spend too much

Premier Campbell, in full election mode, announced he would freeze property assessments. Sounds good, especially because a lot of people believe property taxes are going up because assessments are going up.

But that isn't true. Property taxes are going up because municipal spending is out of control.

The Ontario government froze property tax assessments in June 2006 but Toronto's property taxes went up by 4.2% in 2007 anyway. If our premier wants to "create certainty for homeowners, businesses and local governments," he needs to freeze property tax rates. The property Tax Cap proposal just released by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation shows how.

http://www.taxpayer.com/pdf/PropertyTaxCap_November08W.pdf

Just how out of line have municipal spending increases become? Between 2000-2007, municipal expenditures in B.C. went up by 41%. At the same time, inflation rose by 14.5% and population grew by 8.44%. Freezing property assessments will do little if anything to stop the property tax burden from getting bigger because out-of-control municipal spending is driving property taxes even higher.

Yes, the premier needs to do something because municipalities are creatures of the provincial government. But he needs to do more than use people's misconceptions to appear to be doing something about ever expanding property tax burdens. He must cap property tax rates.

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