Counting costs

If a series of proposed tax and rate increases are approved, it will soon cost more money to live in Summerland.

If a series of proposed tax and rate increases are approved, it will soon cost more money to live in Summerland.

The proposed property tax increase is three per cent or an additional $41 for a home with an assessed value of $435,900.

When the utility rate increases are factored in, the increase is estimated at $199 a year or $16.60 a month.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a lot of money. A few lattes or cappuccinos at a coffee shop will add up to this amount or more. One month’s data plan for a cell phone will cost significantly more than the rate increases. Two tickets to a movie will cost more — and that’s without popcorn.

However, it would be a mistake to stop with these comparisons.

With income and wage levels where they are at present, an additional $16.60 a month works out to more than an hour’s take-home pay for many.

Every dollar in taxes is a dollar which cannot be used elsewhere.

For those already on tight personal budgets, even a small cost increase can have a big impact.

This is not to suggest this year’s increases are a mistake.

Inflation means the costs of providing the present level of municipal services will continue to increase each year.

Trying to function without tax and rate increases would mean cuts to the present levels of service.

Additional money is needed for capital projects to replace aging utilities and infrastructure items.

At the same time, workers do not necessarily see similar increases in their wages and for too many retirees, fixed incomes are a fact of life.

This reality must be considered whenever a tax hike or rate increase is considered.

Costs will increase, but these increases must be made carefully and reluctantly.

In the end, it is  the taxpayers who must make adjustments to their finances to pay for the increasing costs of running the municipality.