I opened my 2013 Property Tax Notice from the City of White Rock and was shocked to find my payment had increased 32 per cent in comparison with my notice for 2012.
A message from council noted it had approved a 3.38 per cent increase. I was incredulous that my increase was 32 per cent.
I knew from my 2013 notice of assessment that the value of my land had increased 20 per cent. The increase is related to the purchase price of lots sold in my neighbourhood. So why should I be billed for a 32 per cent rise?
The answer can partially be attributed to a problem with the calculation of the home owner grant. When the value of a property rises above a threshold established by the provincial taxation authority, the portion of the grant that is allowed for reduction of school taxes is reduced until it reaches zero. In my case, the full grant of $850 was reduced to $180.
In 2008, this same thing happened. The increase in property tax hit people owning properties that had been subject to huge increases that exceeded the grant threshold. The tax authority stepped in and raised the threshold. Immediate relief ensued. Why wasn’t this considered again for this taxation year?
I wrote to city hall this year and asked for recognition and relief for my neighbours and me. I received a form letter telling me what I already knew: that my property value had increased and the grant threshold had been exceeded considerably. I was disappointed the letter did not recognize we were facing a hardship, nor, perhaps, the same kind of remedy as was implemented in 2008.
I have lived in White Rock for 47 years. Property values have increased immensely over this time. I am retired now and am on pension, like many who are living here in town.
Last year, we had friends on our street, who were finding the property taxes too high, so they moved to Parksville on Vancouver Island. They loved this neighbourhood and had many friends here. But they were squeezed out by the “madness” of the effect of increasing land values.
I wish city council was more sympathetic to the plight of its longtime citizens. The least it could do would be to help us lobby the provincial taxation authority.
John A. (Jack) Gammer, White Rock