Victoria, Saanich Pay Less than Most of Us

Frontier Centre, Local Government, Media Appearances, Role of Government, Taxation, Uncategorized

Homeowners in Victoria and Saanich pay less in property taxes than the Canadian average according to figures released yesterday by a Prairie think-tank.

The average municipality in Canada raises $1,937 per household in taxes and raises $4,869 per household in total revenue, according to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, an independent, non-profit based in Saskatchewan.

In Victoria the net taxes per household last year was $1,934 and the total revenue was $3,729 and in Saanich net taxes were $1,546 and total revenue per household was $2,767, according to the Local Government Performance Index

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The Frontier Centre compared taxes, areas of expenditure and standards of disclosure at the 79 most populous centres across the country.

Municipalities often go unnoticed even though they play a huge role in the country’s economy, said David Seymour, one of the study’s authors.

“They’re a really big deal and they don’t get a lot of attention,” he said.

“Municipalities typically spend about $5,000 per household per year which is about eight per cent of household income. They generally control about $15,000 worth of capital assets — all the infrastructure and stuff per household.”

The idea of the index is to try to get a handle on what the average municipality looks like in terms of revenue and expenditures.

While the study has a good level of detail, Saanich director of finance Paul Murray says in many cases a comparison of municipalities — especially from one province to another — is a comparison of apples and oranges.

“Comparing us to other municipalities — say a similar sized one in Ontario — I not sure how relevant that is. There’s a totally different provincial regime. They may have different services they provide and a different climate thing like snow clearing,” he said.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard said even comparing Victoria and Saanich there are huge differences in the revenue and expenditure picture.

“The city of Victoria has got parking fine [revenues] and we have a huge recreation file,” Leonard said.

“We have five rec centres so we have a lot of non-tax revenue from that even though they all operate at a loss,” he said.

Although he had only skimmed the report, Murray said that overall, B.C. municipalities seemed to fare well.

“I think the B.C. municipalities placed quite well overall compared to other municipalities across the country and I think our property taxation levels are average or below average for the country which is probably a good thing.”