12th & Cambie: Tax and shift


If you plan to cast a ballot in this Saturday's municipal election, and you're not sure who to vote for, here are some facts to consider about every property owner's favourite topic: taxes.

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Since the campaigns began, the rhetoric flying around about how much the NPA raised taxes under the Sam Sullivan administration or how little Vision raised taxes- lowest in the region last year, says Mayor Gregor Robertson-needs some examination.

So I had the city's communications department trace tax increases from 2005 to 2011, which covers the period in which Sullivan and his NPA team ruled council before Robertson and his Vision pals had their three-year run at city hall.

Note: I did this grudgingly since my love for math waned dramatically in Grade 11 after my mind was blown by the concept of "imaginary numbers." Thirty years later, this taxpayer has learned taxes are not imaginary.

I digress.

If my addition skills are still working-actually, it's the calculator on my computer that is my new brain-taxes increased 17.76 per cent from 2006 to 2008 for residents. That was under the NPA.

From 2009 to 2011, taxes increased 15.79 per cent. That was under Vision.

In both terms of office, the increases agreed to by the respective councils included shifting a percentage of taxes from businesses to residents. This came about after an independent report recommended the shift to lessen the tax burden on businesses.

Here's some more detail:

. In 2005, taxes for residents and business owners increased by 2.99 per cent. That was under then-mayor Larry Campbell's COPE/Vision council and before the tax shift was introduced. Sullivan and his NPA cohorts were then elected in November 2005.

. In 2006-the first year of the tax shift-the Sullivan administration hiked residential taxes by a total of 6.4 per cent; business taxes increased 2.40 per cent.

. In 2007, Sullivan and his team hit residential taxpayers hard with a whopping eight per cent hike; businesses received no increase.

. In 2008, residential taxpayers took a lesser hit with a 3.36 per cent hike; businesses saw a negative 0.68 per cent decrease. The NPA was defeated in November 2008, giving Robertson and Vision a crack at setting taxes.

. In 2009, Vision didn't get off to a good start, imposing a 7.89 per cent tax hike for residents; business taxes increased 3.89 per cent. I asked Vision's finance guy, Coun. Raymond Louie, about this hike. He emailed me this response: "In 2009, an extra 2.32 per cent increase was necessary due to the NPA reducing the 2008 increase with one-time 2007 strike savings and the 2.32 per cent increase should rightfully be attributed to the NPA's 2008 budget."

Got it?

. In 2010, Vision imposed a total residential tax hike of 4.08 per cent; business taxes increased 0.08 per cent

. In 2011, Vision increased residential taxes by another 3.82 per cent; businesses saw a negative 0.18 per cent decrease.

So there you have it-the NPA and Vision raised your taxes and, no doubt, more increases are on the way after a new council is elected this Saturday. Both parties' platforms can be viewed on their respective websites. mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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