Wards 1, 2, 3 could see the largest tax hikes

Jump in prop­erty val­ues play­ing a role

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

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

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