LETTER: We need to take a close look at what taxes are used for

Dear editor:

Re: High Property Taxes Punishing Businesses, Jan. 24 front-page story.

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Our province’s current methodology for determining relative property tax rates may well be flawed, but the real source of the mounting and unsustainable financial burden on North Shore business owner/operators and residents alike is alluded to towards the end of this informative article. That is, “municipalities still need to collect the same amount of tax revenue, regardless of who’s paying.”

Really? Why might this be so?

Municipalities, being essentially service-oriented organizations, spend the lion’s share of their annual operating budgets on employee remuneration.

Fair enough.

In West Vancouver, according to Financial Information Act filings, in the eight years between 2010 and 2018 this amount increased by fully 36 per cent, a yearly average of 4.5 per cent. This at a time when the annual inflation rate was less than 2.0 per cent and the population of the district was either static or in marginal decline.

There are many things that municipal governments do that deliver real value to their community: road and sewer repair or replacement, parks maintenance, new books for the library or bylaw enforcement to name but a few. But “communications?”

In 2011, the District of West Vancouver hired its first director of communications and paid her $95,055. Seven years later the District was paying $152,067 for the same position, an increase of 60 percent. The budget for the district’s top communications staff (two in 2011 and three in 2018) increased from $172,529 in 2011 to $356,851 in 2018, or by 107 per cent. What value do West Vancouver residents and business owner-operators derive from this expenditure?

The District of West Vancouver is seeking to impose a tax rate increase in excess of six per cent this year. This is completely unacceptable. Local taxpayers ought to be adamantly opposed. In fact, they should be demanding a reduction in their tax burden.

David Marley
West Vancouver

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