An ArmchairMayor.ca editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
EVER GET YOUR annual property tax bill and wonder what it says?
Some tax bills contain almost nothing in the way of a breakdown of where our money is going; others are full of jargon and line items about various services broken down into tax rates per $1,000 of assessed value.
Of course, taxpayers can always go online to the websites of their local governments for details but it’s nice to have a simple reference.
And local governments are sensitive about taxpayers knowing when taxes are being collected for some other level of government, lest they think the council is “to blame” for it all.
So Coun. Pat Wallace tried for a small step toward increased transparency this week with her motion that the City’s property tax bills include a line item showing the cost of the Employers Health Tax.
That, of course, is the tax that’s so controversial right now. It’s the NDP government’s way of getting rid of Medical Services Plan premiums, and will take effect next Jan. 1.
It will force employers — including local governments — with payrolls over $500,000 a year to pay a .98 per cent tax on annual payroll, and it goes up the bigger the payroll.
As Wallace stated in her motion, everybody wants to know, when their tax bills arrive, what the increase will be and what’s causing it.
Next year, the City will pay several hundred thousand dollars more due to the new tax. After that, the cost will drop. Whether it will mean a higher than usual 2019 property tax increase remains to be seen, but unless council cuts services or postpones wish list items, it seems likely.
It’s a little bit like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another — municipalities worry that the provincial government will look good at the expense of local governments.
Wallace got no support for her motion, though, which is too bad since anything that adds clear information to people’s tax bills is a good thing.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.