The Town of Comox has set its tax rates for the coming tax year, with residential tax rates to see an increase just below five per cent.
Additionally, council has set the commercial tax rate at 3.95 per cent, as the business tax rate uses a multiplier (4.20).
In his report to council, Jordan Wall, the town’s chief administrative officer said the municipality in 2021 is facing a number of upwards operating budgetary pressures including an increased policing cost of $670,000 per year and a $45,000 increase in operating costs.
He explained in order to pay for these cost increases. a total 9.3 per cent increase in tax revenue is required.
At the April 7 council meeting, Coun. Ken Grant suggested taking $229,000 out of the town’s $429,000 safety budget and $100,000 out of its COVID-19 relief fund in order to achieve the residential rate of 4.95 per cent.
Last year, the town set its tax rate increase at two per cent, but councillors acknowledged the financial impact of the pandemic. This year, some councillors noted the significant amount of increased costs the town faces in the future.
“Our marginal tax rate is lower than the other municipalities in terms of equal to equal. Even at 4.95 … it’s high but it’s unfortunately needed,” said Coun. Pat McKenna. “(We’re facing an) increase in RCMP costs, we have other increases we’re facing, we kept our rates low last year. By having a reserve next year and this year, it keeps our rate low. I would like to do 4 per cent but I’ll defer to the majority of the group.”
He acknowledged while the Comox taxpayer isn’t going to be happy with any tax increase, he noted the one advantage homeowners within the town have is the rise in real estate prices.
“The value of your home has increased far past any marginal tax increase; the long-term assets in your home will far, far outweigh any sort of tax increase.”
Coun. Stephanie McGowan agreed and added the town has provided excellent services at reasonable rates, and with a large amount of growth and change, the 4.95 per cent increase is “as good as we can get.”
The tax rate motion was passed unanimously.