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Hamilton homeowners will see higher property taxes this year

Posted: January 23, 2018

Last year the average tax increase was 2.2 per cent

Jan 19, 2018 by Kevin Werner  Stoney Creek News

Mike Zegarac, general manager of corporate services, presents Hamilton’s 2018 operating budget to councillors Jan. 19. Hamilton residents face a proposed 2.3-per-cent average tax increase this year. – Kevin Werner/Metroland

Hamilton homeowners should expect to pay higher property taxes in 2018, but not as much as last year.

Preliminary figures introduced by the city’s corporate finance general manager Jan. 19 propose a 2.3 per cent average tax hike. It is a significant reduction since Mike Zegarac said last August the proposed average tax increase would be 4.8 per cent.

“We are at a very good starting point,” he said. If councillors, who will begin their budget deliberations over the next couple of months, approved the budget now, it would mean an increase of $77 to the average tax bill of a resident with a home assessed at $300,000.

We are at a very good starting point.Councillors still have to decide what to do with a number of expenses totally almost $360,000, which would bump the average tax increase to 2.4 per cent.

But councillors are prepared to reduce the proposed tax increase as far as possible. Last year the average tax increase was 2.2 per cent or $73 on a home valued at $300,000. They did it by eliminating about 85 jobs.

Hamilton’s proposed tax increase is one of the lower ones among comparable municipalities. Ottawa’s tax increase is two per cent, while Kingston is 2.5 per cent, Windsor sits at 2.6 per cent and London is at 2.8 per cent.

The 2018 operating budget includes $2.1 million for transit, including 29 full-time employees, of which 26 are bus operators; $1.1 million for winter control; $1.7 million for DARTS.

Hamilton will also have to deal with potential higher levies from the Halton, Grand River and Niagara Peninsula conservation authorities that are looking at how they apportion their levies. The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority won a decision at the Mining and Lands Commissioner last December that will see Hamilton pay a higher levy this year. The total potential impact on the city could be $2.4 million.

Hamilton is also absorbing the cost of a higher minimum wage over the next two years. It will cost about $400,000 this year for the minimum wage increase rising to $14 an hour and another $900,000 in 2019 when the minimum wage jumps to $15 per hour Jan. 1, 2019.

 Zegarac said Hamilton’s assessment growth is pegged at one per cent. The growth could have been 1.5 per cent higher, he said, if there weren’t so many industrial and commercial property owners appealing their tax assessments to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

Zegarac said there were 166 businesses, including all the mall owners, ArcellorMittal Dofasco, and Stelco who have appealed their tax assessments.

Zegarac said commercial and industrial property owners are willing to appeal their property tax assessments after the success of the so-called big box stores Home Depot and Lowe’s which reduced their tax assessments.

He said while residential tax assessments jump by six per cent, industrial property owners are seeing reductions in their tax assessments of up to 30 per cent.

by Kevin Werner