Wards 1, 2, 3 could see the largest tax hikes
Jump in property values playing a role
Homeowners in wards 1 through 3 will feel a particular tax hit this year thanks to spiking property values.
The city is struggling to slice the 2017 budget by $20 million in an effort to cut down the anticipated city tax hike. Hamiltonians faced a citywide average tax hike of around 3.4 per cent, or an extra $127 on the tax bill, before last week’s termination of 23 managers and other nonunion staff.
But even with ongoing budget cuts, residents of wards with spiking assessed property values can still expect to pay more come tax time, a Monday budget update shows.
The budget snapshot shows potential average tax hikes of around six per cent for wards 1 through 3. Those wards saw higher-than-average property value increases during the latest round of Municipal Property Assessment Corporation reassessments.
Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr said the increasing assessed property values are a “good news story” for residents looking at their homes as an investment but also acknowledged pockets of his ward are going to see “a very difficult (tax) increase.”
“Folks have received their reassessments and easily translate that into higher taxes. And they’re concerned,” he said. “For some people, a hundred bucks (extra) is already too much.”
That’s part of the reason councillors are looking at relatively rare budgetcutting measures such as reducing staff and — possibly — service cuts, said Ward 5 Coun. Chad Collins.
“We’re making progress but there’s still a lot to do and not a lot of time remaining,” he said, adding council still has to grapple with requested budget bumps — like an extra $1 million to pay a “living wage” to 500 part-time, contract and seasonal city workers.
Budget-wary councillors also put off a decision Monday on a request from the water and sewer department for an extra six employees. The money for the new hires would come from an already-approved water rate budget, rather than the still-debated tax levy.
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said the “optics really stink” on the request for new hires so soon after 23 managers and nonunion staff were terminated.
Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson agreed, warning there may be “more (job cuts) on the horizon” before the budget is approved, likely next month.
For some people, a hundred bucks (extra) is already too much. WARD 2 COUN. JASON FARR
Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr: pockets of his ward