Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Taking Stock" on Property Taxes

As a New Year begins, many of us like to “take stock” on our personal and professional lives. Many find it a good time to review the last year and to ask, how and what can we improve.

On the professional side, this review got me thinking about one of the major yardsticks for residents of Municipalities – property taxes.

Now, it is too early to talk about the 2010 Operating Budget and its impacts on the 2010 Property Tax Levy; Council will start reviewing the Budget in February.

You will recall that Pelham Council did approve the 2010 Capital Budget on November 30 – the earliest ever. In fact, Staff has already started tendering capital projects in order to get ahead of other municipalities, and to (hopefully) get better pricing.

Property Tax Calculation:
You will recall that I have written here often about property taxes, about how we prudently invest your taxes in the Town, and about how it is calculated.

The amount of property tax you pay to the Town of Pelham, to the Region, and to the Province (for Education) is based on the Market Value Assessment of your property multiplied by each of the tax rates.

Despite your tax rate being set by each entity for their services, the Town collects the tax and distributes it.

Your assessment is solely set by MPAC. The Town and the Region cannot change any element of this assessment process.

From 2004 to 2009:

You will remember that Pelham’s final 2009 property tax increase of 1.8% was the second lowest increase in Niagara Region last year.

But, what about over a longer period of time? Let’s compare this term of Council so far with the last term of Council.

The average increase of property tax on the Pelham portion of your tax bill for the last three years was 3.8%; for the previous three years it was 12.2%. If you “take stock” on the entire tax bill – Pelham, Region, Education – the past three year’s average was 2.1% compared to 5.9%.

Pelham staff has diligently followed this Council’s direction to ensure minimal impact on you and other property tax-payers without decreasing the current level and quality of services. Staff found efficiencies, ways to work smarter, and stayed focused on service to the community.

I am pleased with our record and look forward to 2010 Operating Budget deliberations in February.