In a report on property taxes in Maple Ridge, the District of Maple Ridge incudes a table showing municipal tax charges on the “average house” in cities across the Metro Vancouver region. The table is provided below, minus a few explanatory notes.
There are 21 municipalities in the region, and some of the smaller ones are not shown. Mission, which is adjacent to Maple Ridge, is not part of the Metro Vancouver region.
– There are occasional proposals to combine the cities and towns in the region into one big city to reduce costs to taxpayers. However, there’s no clear indication here that size produces efficiency. The lowest-tax city in the table, Pitt Meadows, is one of the smallest in population. Vancouver, with more than 30 times the population of Pitt Meadows, has higher residential taxes on the average house.
– The residential tax burden is not well correlated with income. (Average household income numbers are available in the 2006 federal census records.) While West Vancouver has high average household incomes and the very high residential taxes, New West combines relatively low household incomes with high taxes. Delta and Pitt Meadows have among the highest incomes and lowest taxes.
– Six of the seven lowest-tax jurisdictions in the table are distant from rapid transit. The possible connection is that people are prepared to pay higher taxes to live in an area that is close to transit, or to big-city services and attractions generally. Local tax rates are a function of public willingness as well as political persuasion. I don’t believe that the cost of local government is 50 per cent higher in the District of North Vancouver than it is in Maple Ridge. It’s more a matter of what politicians can get away with, or (put more positively) how much people are prepared to pay to live where they live.
Taxes aside, this table also shows a contrast between real estate values in Vancouver City and the North Shore and values in the eastern suburbs.
The high taxes in places like North Van, appearing to be proportionate to property values, is the reason why I used to think that taxes were roughly based on property value. The reality is that this is only true within a municipality, not across municipalities. The mill rate is more influential in tax calculations, and is set each year according to claimed expenses, I understand.
Right you are. And a big part of the practice of politics is knowing when to tax (and spend) more than you need to.