An increase in taxes

Tax increases are a fact of life in any community as the cost of providing services continues to increase.

Tax increases are a fact of life in any community as the cost of providing services continues to increase.

The proposed two per cent increase in Summerland property taxes for this year is comparable with previous increases.

In 2012, taxes rose by 1.5 per cent and in 2011, the increase was one per cent.

What is different this time is that the bulk of the increase is for higher policing costs.

The higher cost for the RCMP works out to the equivalent of a 1.5 per cent tax increase.

The higher cost is the result of a new provincial service contract with the RCMP. This contract is passed on to communities throughout British Columbia.

The policing cost increase must be examined because of its effect on municipal budgets.

The rest of this year’s tax increase has to cover all other cost increases the municipality will face this year.

For the municipal treasurer and the members of the finance committee, coming up with a budget which meets all Summerland’s needs and keeps costs low is a challenging task.

This year’s budget is more than $11 million, with property taxes accounting for close to $7 million of the money the municipality receives.

From this money, the municipality has to provide all the services it delivers.

While tax increases are never pleasant, the effect of this increase is small. For a property owner whose total property tax bill last year was $2,000 before the homeowner grant was calculated, the increase will add $20 to the total bill.

Unless one is on an extremely tight personal budget, an additional $20 over the course of the year is barely noticeable.

Still, in a world where each of us must take care of our own finances, we expect the same scrutiny when a government deals with its costs.