Ladysmith’s Town Council has voted to proceed with a 0.52 percent tax increase for 2021.
This increase is Ladysmith’s smallest in the past two years. Property tax rates were increased by 3.4 percent in 2019 and 1.92 percent in 2020.
“We’re seeing tax rates pop up all over the province,” Mayor Aaron Stone said. “We should all be very proud of the work our staff has done and our work as a team here in Ladysmith because I believe we’re going to be one of the lowest [increases] in the province and definitely one of the lowest on Vancouver Island.”
Neighbouring municipalities like Nanaimo and Duncan are looking at increases of three percent, while North Island municipalities like Campbell River and Courtenay have managed to keep increases below two percent.
“To be able to go into the second year of a pandemic with an under one percent increase is pretty remarkable,” Stone added.
During budget discussions which were held in November and December 2020, Town Council confirmed the amounts to be included in the 2021-2025 Financial Plan Bylaw for a total of $9,346,450 (Municipal $7,565,288, Police $1,355,338 and Library $425,824).
That represents an overall budget increase of 2.51 percent, though when non-market change — a term that refers to new construction —is factored in, as well as adjustments due to supplementary assessment changes, the budget increase is 0.52 percent. This includes the changes in the Library Tax which saw a decrease of $3,705, an increase of $39,375 for policing and an increase of $158,873 in municipal taxation.
Council opted to keep the tax increase low for the residential property class. There are nine taxable property classes in Ladysmith: residential, utilities, supportive housing, major industry, light industry, business, managed forest, non-profit, and farmland. Each class is taxed at a different rate with residential properties making up a bulk of the tax base.
Municipal property taxes make up only a portion of the overall tax bill. The biggest change on the 2021 tax bill will be an increase in school taxes.
Last year the provincial government provided a one-time exemption from school taxation for commercial and industrial properties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, however, rates have returned to their normal level and will result in higher tax bills for major industry, light industry and commercial properties. Residential properties will also see a four percent increase in their school tax bill.
Regional tax rates also increased by five percent for residential properties. However, the Town of Ladysmith does not rely on the Cowichan Valley Regional District for many services, so the five percent increase represents roughly $10.70 for the average home in Ladysmith. Rates per class for regional taxes are set by the province.
Property tax bills are based on assessed property values, which are conducted by BC Assessment at the beginning of each year. The average assessed value of residential properties in Ladysmith rose by seven percent in 2021.
Property tax notices will be mailed out in the coming weeks. Taxes are due July 2, 2021. Residents are encouraged to direct their questions and comments to council or staff by emailing email@example.com or call City Hall at 250-245-6400.