Thursday, May 05, 2016

Figuring Out Your Tax Bill Is Tricky Business

It is dangerous to make projections about property tax bills because there are so many variable components. 

Everything we have seen in the media to date is only a portion of your tax bill. It's not time yet to take comfort in the fact that the city has pledged there will be no increase in the tax RATE. Therefore, if your property assessment increased more than the average increase, you will still see a rise in your city taxes. And if your assessment is lower than the average increase, you should expect to see a decrease.

That does not include the fee-for-service charges which the city has increased significantly – for water and garbage services.

That's the easy part of the tax bill. There are many moving parts that determine what you end up paying. The city isn't the only entity which makes up your tax bill. There are "Levies collected on behalf of other agencies."

  • The Municipal Finance Authority.
  • Nanaimo Regional District General
  • Nanaimo Regional District Parks
  • Nanaimo Regional District Sewer Benefitting Area
  • Nanaimo Regional General Hospital District
  • Regional Parks and Trails Parcel Tax
  • Vancouver Island Regional Library

Then there's the really big elephant in the room - school taxes collected on behalf of the Province of B.C. 

Even though you city tax bill might not change, those other seven agencies can throw things off dramatically. And since the school district's budget has not been finalized by the provincial education ministry, that aspect remains unknown. Most of the discussion outside the board room to date indicates that the school district needs more money.

So a word of caution. Until you actually see the amount of your total tax bill, don't go out and buy that fancy new boat. You may be in for a surprise.

Merv Unger is a retired journalist and former city councillor in Nanaimo.



  1. You forgot the Business Improvement Tax levy!

  2. Randy O'Donnell5 May 2016 at 19:41

    Sent to the Bulletin today:

    Dear Editor;
    The Nanaimo Ratepayers Association continues to raise the alarm regarding the too cosy relationship between municipal governments and their employees, a relationship that benefits both parties at the expense of those who pay the bills – the taxpayer. Today we have yet another example, with the superintendent of school district 68 being awarded a compensation increase exceeding $38,000. This brings his ‘package’ to $229,000 annually. His pay is far in excess of any provincial premier in the country and $60,000 more than that paid to the Prime Minister of Canada. The usual rationale was immediately trotted out – first increase since 2011, in line with his peers, set by an independent consultant and so on. The whole thing reminds us of a type of ponzi type scheme, because the reaction is so predictable. The guy at the top gets a generous raise and the employees under him – in this case support workers. They immediately and not unreasonably raise their own expectations, which cannot reasonably be refused by the guy at the top, who just received a major dose of taxpayer largesse. And round and round it goes. There is no discussion of what the job entails or why $229,000 is considered reasonable, just an expectation that we shut up, accept it and pay yet another increase in our property taxes. It’s pretty clear that people in so-called public service have little respect for the public, whom they regard as little more than a personal cash cow to be regularly milked.
    Randy O’Donnell – President
    Nanaimo Ratepayers Association

    1. Everything you say is true but there is also something else important. Rankings of student achievement continue to put Nanaimo schools nearly at the provincial bottom. The buck has to stop somewhere. The superintendent's salary (before raise) should be cut at least $38,000.

  3. The sad part is that this is but a pin drop in the ocean of "excess" that has grown and continues to grow in this area. If one combines all the factors that go into the waste bin such as job creation, poor productivity, redundancy, poor or no accountability, self policing, red tape and bureaucracy, and the lavish "benefit" packages for public employees and management my guess is that the ocean would double or triple in size. The only words I have that seem appropriate are: "The world is broken."
    Cliff Marcil

  4. The DNBIA is definitely an "extra" tax cash grab. Anything downtown should be handed by the city/tourism dept. If biz owners want something done they are the ones who know what to do and chip-in...not paid staff from a bia who, after salary and admin., have little money left to do anything else.

  5. The open and transparent City Council has yet to disclose the new City Managers actual salary.

  6. At least I've heard it's WAY LESS than the previous CAO salaries and their golden handshakes! And, did they bring in ZERO BUDGETS??? NO!

    The old guard just won't give up and wants their old ways to continue into our pockets.


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