Property taxes are a funny thing, because they just keep going up! Don’t they? Well, sort of. See, it’s actually NOT the taxes that keep going up … it’s the Property Values that keep going up.
I hear you already: don’t lie to me Jackson! I know my taxes went up!
Have I ever lied to you before?
Admittedly, it’s not a huge margin, but in the last ten years, Residential Property Tax Rates have fallen. By 0.17619891% from the Rate peak of 2008 to be precise.
For more detailed break downs, go to http://www.brampton.ca/en/residents/Taxes-Assessment/taxation/Pages/historical-tax-information.aspx
Year over year, your total tax bill will rise. It rises not in conjunction with inflation, but with the value of your property. And truth be told, if MCAP were on the ball, we could cut the Tax Rate substantially and collect more Total Taxes just by having real time value fluctuations appearing on your Tax Bill.
None of this of course affects what people really care about: the actual tax bill. They really care that last year, their bill was $300 less than it was this year, because that is still $25 more a month in Taxes they are going to be paying, on top of every other bill that went up too. And I understand that. Total Cost matters, because my pay cheque has a Total too.
The bottom line is, governments need to raise money in order to fund operations. In Brampton, we have allowed inflation to increase our residential tax roll, even as the Residential Tax Rate has gone down. We have also had to collect a Hospital levy, and address Infrastructure gaps in our reserves. None of which means that our Tax Bill is going down any time soon. Especially if we want to build Peel Memorial Phase II or a third hospital, both of which are Needs, not Wants.
But I also truly believe that people understand that the “Cost” is not the measure of thing. “Value” is the true measure that people truly care about. It’s why Tesla can sell car for $75,000 even though a Toyota Highlander starts at under $38,000. But let me give a more concrete example: If the City could provide free wi-fi, city wide, for a tax increase of $100 per household per year, should we do it? On the one hand, it is going to cost more money. On the other, free wi-fi might save your household money on your cell phone bills well in excess of $100 per year. So, would I “hold taxes to inflation” and miss the opportunity? I think most people would agree that I would have to at least look at the offer, even if it meant “breaking my promise” on increasing taxes.
As Mayor, I can only work to ensure that people get Value for their Money. Believe me, as I have written here before, I grew up with a single mom and two brothers with many a time that money was tight. I worked part time all the way through high school, and through two universities programs, to make sure I could help out by buying my own clothes, paying for my own transportation and entertainment. It wasn’t easy; but nothing worth doing ever is.
Can I promise to hold taxes to inflation (or less)? Sure, if you are talking about the Residential Tax Rate, I could probably promise to lower that every year I am in office, as it has been for the last ten years. But even with that promise, it would still cost you more money, year after year, just to live here as property values continue to climb.
So instead, I will make these promises:
- The taxes you pay will bring value to you.
- Every budget will be scrutinized, and every budget will have a solid business case behind it.
- We will address this City’s needs in a systematic and fiscally responsible way.
- Your tax dollars will be wisely spent.
Year after Year, budget after budget, the tax system will be fair and understandable, and the Value for Dollar proposition will be competitive. Because I understand that if it isn’t, you will simply move away to a jurisdiction where you are getting value for your money, and where the cost of living is not only affordable in terms of your income, but in terms of the quality of life you can afford to live outside of your home too. I want to build this City up, not tear it down.