LETTER – Comox senior says tax increases are a reasonable expectation

Dear editor,

I was disappointed by the “Chipping Away at the Foundation” cartoon by Bob Castle (April 25 Under The Glacier) about increases in municipal property taxes and impacts on seniors. It felt like a cheap shot at municipalities, and a pat on the back for aspiring populists.

We are a retired seniors couple living in a patio home in Comox. Our assessed value went up 11 per cent last year, below the 16 per cent average increase. That translates into a substantial $40,000 increase in the value of our property and assets. We also live on “fixed” income, the typical OAS, CPP and a small pension from the last five years of work. Those pensions are all adjusted to inflation. We also have some retirement savings. We manage to get by comfortably on all that, although I do appreciate that there are seniors, especially single seniors, living on much less.

We live in Comox and they are discussing a 3.3 per cent increase here. Based on last year’s taxes, that would mean paying about $47 more this year. It’s unlikely we’ll end up on the street because of that. We get a lot for our tax dollars: roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage, garbage and recycling collection, parks and trails, recreation facilities, fire protection, planning and development management, and policing in Courtenay to name some of the bigger ones. Every dollar municipalities collect is spent on managing and providing those services, and our properties would be absolutely worthless without them.

What I don’t understand about the zero tax mentality is that it seems to assume that municipalities aren’t subject to the same inflation in costs as we are, and all that growth and new development that everybody seems to love doesn’t result in increased costs. I see no serious discussion about what services taxpayers should consider reducing or giving up to save tax dollars, or how those decreases or loss in services might negatively affect our property values.

The main thing the cartoon ignores is that any senior homeowner can sign up for the Property Tax Deferment Program and pay no property taxes at all. In our case, the kids can figure out how to pay our property taxes and that whopping $47 increase out of the $40,000 increase in property value. That shouldn’t be too difficult.

George Penfold,

Comox

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