December 2, 2019
Kamloops Voters Society
RE: Increases in City of Kamloops Residential Property Taxes
As the City moves forward with its annual budgeting process, Kamloops Voters Society (KVS) is concerned that residents continue to bear the brunt of property tax increases.
We focus on the City portion of residential property taxes here as these are the taxes homeowners pay and the City typically refers to when communicating with the public and referencing annual residential property tax increases.
Overall, the City portion of residential taxes paid by a representative home in Kamloops has increased by 46 per cent or $697 over the period from 2008 to 2019. These numbers are based on data collected from the City by the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. These increases are persistent and appear to be accelerating. Between 2008 to 2013 the increase was $246 or $49 per year and represents 35 per cent (of) the entire increase for the 2008 to 2019 period. The increase between 2013 and 2019 was $451 or $75 per year and represents 65 per cent of the total increase over the entire 2008 to 2019 period.
Between 2013 and 2015 the City froze the heavy industrial tax rate, and, beginning in 2016, started to implement a strategy of reducing heavy industrial taxes and making up the shortfall through increasing residential property taxes. More recently, the City has discussed further reductions to heavy industrial taxes by applying new Class 2 (utilities) tax revenues to lower the taxes heavy industry pays. These Class 2 taxes could have been used to offset residential taxes, but instead the strategy results in further increases to residential property taxes.
In addition to the municipal property taxes and user fees controlled by the City, there are a range of other taxes and charges that residents pay including: school, hospital and regional district. Collectively, all property taxes and charges on a representative home have increased from $3,346 in 2008 to $4,343 in 2019.
Overall, KVS supports Domtar’s efforts to have heavy industrial taxes reviewed by the City. However, it is important that all tax categories are considered in a holistic fashion. During this budget season we encourage the City to explore a variety of strategies to address tax shortfalls other than simply loading them onto the residential tax payer.
We are concerned that these persistent and growing residential property taxes could jeopardize Kamloops’ overall affordability and erode its tax competitiveness for residential properties. For 2020, the City recently announced that user fees for water, sewer, garbage and recycling ($939 in 2019) will need to increase by 7 per cent, while residential property taxes will increase in the range of 2.76 percent.
Director, Kamloops Voters Society