Ron Bolin: Nov. 24, 2013
In 2013, Nanaimo was the third highest in the Province, climbing up from fifth place in 2008. What a struggle to climb to this heady height beating out such competitors as Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey! Council and Staff at City Hall have worked hard to beat those rivals and, no doubt, will work even harder to continue our climb to the top.
What, you may ask, is the area in which Nanaimo blazes such a trail? Why it’s in the field of the highest per capita tax burdens in BC. And surely with the help of continuing subsidies to theatre, sport and business and additions to Staff we can soon reach the top. After all, we climbed from fifth place in 2008 to third place in only five years.
From what biased source are these figures taken? From the records of BC Stats, our provincial government’s set of statistics regarding municipalities. This particular statistic on the tax burden can be found at: http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/infra/tax_rates/tax_rates2013.htm. To reach this conclusion from the very lengthy set of detailed information contained in the pertinent Tax Burden Excel worksheet found there, I looked at the Total Municipal Tax burden for Cities of 30,000 or more.
Nanaimo’s per capita tax burden in 2013, the figure which put us in third place in the province for high taxes, was $1023. This figure includes only direct municipal taxes does not include the range of other taxes which are collected by the city but are not a part of its total tax burden which includes things like: Schools, BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority, Regional District General, Regional District Parks, Regional District Sewer Benefiting Area, Regional Hospital District, and Regional Parks and Trails Parcel Taxes. Nor does it include the many other ways in which money can be extracted from ratepayers by way of fees or other assessments such as for water, sewer, garbage collection, fees for facility use, etc..
Similar data can be found for the years from 2005. In 2008, for example, Nanaimo had, at $886, the fifth highest municipal tax burden in BC. But you can’t keep a busy Civic Administration down and we climbed to number three in 2013, exceeded only by Prince George ($1,096) and Kamloops ($1,031). Interestingly some other, less outstanding, examples include Victoria ($1011), Vancouver ($958), Kelowna ($892), Penticton ($752) and Surrey ($516).
Now with this exemplary record for extracting funds from citizens shouldn’t we expect that all is well with the well-being of Nanaimo’s population and find ourselves among the more favoured of BC’s municipalities in this area as well. Unfortunately an examination of the statistics at BC Stats quickly disabuses us of that fantasy. An examination of such statistics as Children at Risk, Percent on Income Assistance, and Overall Human Economic Hardship puts Nanaimo in the worst quintile (20%) of problem municipalities in all these categories.
Think about it. Is something wrong with this picture? Are these the trends we want to see continue? It is budget time at City Hall. Are we going to demand change or is our path to simultaneously become both the best and the worst to be continued??? (To be continued)
We look forward to your comments and views on the causes and the effects of City policies in these areas and what might, if anything needs, be done about them.
Could it be that the top three are those that strive the hardest for ‘growth’??
Encouraging & enabling growth, before prior debt is payed, would seem to be at the heart of the problem.
I would suggest that the Welcox land will be the next reason for higher taxes.
These are very damning statistics. It speaks to a need for a very drastic overall of city hall.
Taken from the Nanaimo News Bulletin.
Rispin said the deal brings Nanaimo’s firefighters to wage parity with the majority of firefighters across the province and they will be getting paid a slightly higher wage than their counterparts in Vancouver.
Why would Nanaimo firefighters earn more than Vancouver firefighters who live in a city where the average home costs three times that of a Nanaimo home?
Those that effect the election of Nanaimo Council ; the Unions on one side & the developer/real estate industry on the other certainly receive their pound of flesh at considerable cost to the majority of the populalation.
Farce number infinity: IFSL!
Now we know, confirmed, Wellcox downtown Nanaimo will be wall-to-wall parking what was the point of The South Downtown Waterfront Initiative?
But then at sixty bucks a pop I wont be imbibing the pleasure!
And last nite Mayor Ruttan’s council okayed so far.
Who the hell votes for these people?
Oh well someone’s having fun!
A further examination of the information at BC Stats points to the fact that the median employment income among the top 20 BC Cities puts Nanaimo near the bottom of the heap at $25,983, effectively tied for 18th place with Campbell River, and only undercut by Vernon and Penticton, while the other 16 Cities all tower over us by from 2 to 56%. How does this match up with our premier position in residential taxation?
Thanks Ron, these figures need to be hammered home at City Hall. I’d heard somewhere (I can imagine they’d keep such information under wraps at City Hall), that some years as much as 60% of property owners in Nanaimo are delinquent or overdue in paying their taxes. Now I haven’t been able to confirm this figure. But it would both be surprising, and not surprising, if it were true. No one wants to be overdue in paying their property tax due to the interest, but if this is true, that means Nanaimoites are under some incredible pressures and have a very difficult time coming up with the money. Council is in the best position to know, and if this is the case, they’re knowing trying to run Nanaimo property owners into the ground. Because you’d what people can afford, would be the metric by which they run our city. And if 60% can’t pay their taxes on time, or at all, perhaps spending money on toxic waste dumps, public pissoirs, and rundown theaters and art galleries, is not the best use of our or tax dollars.
Thanks Ron, these figures need to be hammered home at City Hall. I’d heard somewhere (I can imagine they’d keep such information under wraps at City Hall), that some years as much as 60% of property owners in Nanaimo are delinquent or overdue in paying their taxes. Now I haven’t been able to confirm this figure. But it would both be surprising, and not surprising, if it were true. No one wants to be overdue in paying their property tax due to the interest, but if this is true, that means Nanaimoites are under some incredible pressures and have a very difficult time coming up with the money. Council is in the best position to know, and if this is the case, they’re knowingly trying to run Nanaimo property owners into the ground. Because what people can afford, should be the metric by which Council runs our city. And if 60% can’t pay their taxes on time, or at all, perhaps spending money on toxic waste dumps, public pissoirs, and rundown theaters and art galleries, is not the best use of our or tax dollars.
Brendan: I’d be interested in where you got the figure of 60% late payments for taxes in Nanaimo. I am sure that that is a very exaggerated figure and would guess that it is only a few percent. But this is a question easily answered by the City. If you contact Brian Clemens Brian.Clemens@nanaimo.ca I am sure you can get the correct figure and let us know what you find.
At the same time, climbing property taxes which are exacerbated rather than relieved by growth are a serious problem even if Nanaimo is not in the worst financial position in BC. We do need to do more work to be able to represent the true picture of where we are at and where we are headed.
Thanks for the contact info Ron. I also found the 60% figure staggering, and have been looking for some way to confirm it. I have been to a few city tax sales over the years, and haven’t come up with anything there. Searching the web and city website has turned up nothing. I will ask Mr. Clemens though. That said, Mr. Kemble’s comment illustrates the point succinctly, that we fall close to the bottom in terms of average median income in Nanaimo, but have some of the highest property taxes.
Ron, here’s what Mr. Clemens responded with. In 2012, at the tax due date of July 2nd, 87.9% of tax folios were paid in full (I don’t know how many may have been partially paid). This was equal to 94.8% of the property tax levy. At the end of 2012, 95.7% of folios were paid in full, representing 97.9% of the tax levy.
The idea seems to be that we can pay the taxes resulting from Council excesses if we are all employed at $10/hr sorting through mainland garbage over at Duke Point.
Joe: You have raised a serious question which is generally avoided: Where are the jobs to come from? The idea that we are all going to become computer aces or engineers is very far fetched and as jobs have been globalized and technology has produced robots, more and more people are put out of work which pays a decent wage. We are well on the way to getting meter readers unemployed, Save-on-Foods is training grocery shoppers to do their own checkouts and payments, factory jobs have gone over seas…. Where are average people supposed to find jobs which pay enough to raise a family? Can we afford the kinds of efficiency which we are forwarding where all the cream is rising to the top and little is left for the rest. Is efficiency the prime goal of society or are there other values that require consideration?
I think you answered your own question: We should be building the robots and selling them. I think of it this way: It takes 10,000 people to build an earth mover that one person can operate. We could accomplish the same task with 10,000 people armed with shovels. We choose the technology route because not everyone wants to have a life behind a shovel. I don’t think it is about efficiency, it’s about variety, invention and opportunity. Do we make bad decisions as a result? Yes, because technology always discounts the environment. I am willing to bet whatever is left of the tax receipts that average people would be happier building robots than shoveling someone else’s garbage.
Joe: You got me! Yes. Building the robots would be a good play for Nanaimo. We do have Inuktun in town and perhaps it could be ramped up even further than it is currently. That would keep up among the upper gears for a while. But I have read that soon there will be robots to build the robots. And they will be smarter than us in any event. Maybe they’ll keep us around as pets…… ;-)/2
Maybe we could get those robots elected to Council, I am sure they would do a better job of representing the electorate; after all they can be programmed with good governance principles from which they will not waver regardless of campaign contributions and so forth..
Back to the burning question.
The proponents have an effective campaign going on. It looks like this:
1. If you don’t opt out then you’re in, giving politician a convenient method to play dumb and have things both ways.
2. Waste to energy is politically correct. True if it was true, but it’s not true. This is an incineration proposal by private enterprise. The burning process requires massive energy inputs with huge GHG emissions.
3. Circulation of the rumor that some how citizens will benefit from energy generation. They won’t, this is private enterprise and revenues if any will be used to reduce costs.
4. Claims of no impact on air quality. Wrong, expect a variety of toxic emissions leading to a variety of respiratory diseases and early deaths. Just think about what goes into the waste stream.
5. No mention of risks to water pollution. What happens when a barge sinks and Nanaimo Harbor is filled with a flotilla of stinking garbage?
6. No mention as to why an incinerator cannot be located on the mainland. Simple answer; elected officials actually represent the electorate which will not have it.
7. No mention of the ultimate business plan. Expect that once built every garbage scow on the coast including Washington State will be making its way to the Emerald City.
8. No mention of the effects on boating which is a baseline business for Nanaimo. Ever try to conduct a regatta amongst a parade of garbage barges?
9. Job creation claims. Every project creates jobs! We don’t have to destroy the environment and put public health at risk in the process. There are more jobs in recycling waste than there will ever be in burning it.
It seems we lost our way a long time ago.
Canadian values are not what they once were..
Money & Welcox/ hockey team rule the day.
After leading the field in garbage reduction & recycling we are fast heading to the bottom.
To hell with the environment as long as we have money & a hockey team.