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Property tax increases keep pace with inflation



But school tax increase will mean 11 per cent jump in total tax bill, on average

Municipal property taxes are increasing at the rate of inflation, 2.2 per cent this year, yet the average taxpayer can expect to see an 11 per cent jump overall on their 2003 tax bill.

The increase is a result of the 17 per cent hike in provincial school taxes, which the municipality does not control.

"We’re really quite concerned about increasing taxes," said Lisa Landry, manager of fiscal planning for the municipality.

"We tried very hard not to increase taxes and we didn’t. We didn’t increase them more than inflation and yet the average person is going to see an increase because of the school taxes."

The 2.2 per cent property tax increase to inflation was part of the municipality’s Five-year Financial Plan, presented to council on Monday night.

Property taxes will make up $22 million of the municipality’s $42 million budget for the year.

Even though property tax rates did not increase last year because of 9/11 and other uncertainties, Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said that policy cannot be sustained over a longer period of time.

He added that in a comprehensive community survey done every few years, the results show strong support to keep municipal taxes to the rate of inflation or below, even at the cost to other capital projects.

"(The community was) very clear and they said, ‘We’re comfortable with that even if it means adjusting long term financial capital programs and services," said O’Reilly.

"So we’re adhering to them."

He added that the increase to inflation would not likely put any of the scheduled capital projects on hold this year.

Both property taxes and school taxes are a function of assessed property values. That property value in Whistler experienced another surge this year with single family homes going up by 28 per cent and condos going up by 35 per cent on average.

This year the average increase in assessment for all residential classes jumped from $788,000 to $1,043,312, an increase of 32 per cent.

Property taxes on that "average" home will be $1,961, a 2.2 per cent increase over last year, and school taxes will be $2,681, a 17 per cent increase over last year.

Properties with an increase in assessed value above the average 32 per cent increase will see a corresponding increase in taxes.

For example a condo assessed at $372,000 last year went up 36 per cent this year to $506,000.

The municipal taxes on that condo increased five per cent from $905 to $951. The school taxes on that condo increased 21 per cent from $1,075 to $1,300.

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