City of Nanaimo council chambers. (News Bulletin file photo)

City of Nanaimo council chambers. (News Bulletin file photo)

Editorial: Participate in city’s financial planning process

The City of Nanaimo has started work on its 2022 budget and is interested in public input

It’s easy to grumble about high taxes, and in fact, now is the time to do it, because the city is listening.

The City of Nanaimo has started work on its next five-year financial plan, with the 2022 budget as the centrepiece.

The city’s finance department has calculated a 3.4-per cent tax increase as a starting point, and the final tax rate might settle a little above or below that number. The percentage increase will sound like small change to some, but will be hard on others. Property tax rates are going up faster than many people’s salaries and wages, not to mention how the increase might be felt by those on a fixed income. Percentage increases compound every year, assessments climb, and water, sewer and sanitation user rates keep rising as well.

Cities like Nanaimo also need to keep in mind how the tax increases paid by property owners each year get passed down to tenants and contribute to a rental accommodations crunch that is pricing certain workers out of the city.

At the same time, we accept that property tax increases come with a certain amount of inevitability. The rising costs that typical households face are multiplied in a city with a $220-million budget and billions of dollars worth of assets – just as everything goes up in price for average Nanaimoites, things go up for the city, too. And with low interest rates and an ever-growing to-do list of multimillion-dollar capital projects, there are arguments to be made to buy and borrow now, because none of those projects are going to get any cheaper.

It’s easy to see why budgeting decisions become difficult, or why they should be.

The city says it wants to hear from citizens this month, especially at an e-town hall meeting Nov. 15. Our participation will help councillors get a sense of what the percentages really mean to the people they represent.

Of course we have the right to grumble when our tax bills come next summer, but commenting now would be rather more constructive.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo begins budgeting with 3.4% tax increase as starting point

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo beginning budget process

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