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Region step closer to passing budget

Many households will be hit twice by tax increase, recent home value assessments

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

After two days of meetings that saw little change to how it will spend its money, the Region of Durham is one step away from passing its budget for 2017.

The budget, which sees more than $562 million in spending and just under $84 million in capital spending, brings with it a 1.8-per-cent increase on the regional share of property taxes, or about $45 per household, not including impacts from this year’s property value reassessments.

According to a presentation given in committee of the whole by Jim Clapp, the region’s finance commissioner, of the 196,000 residential households in Durham Region, 83.4 per cent will see their property taxes go up as a result of property value assessments completed last year, outside of any regional tax increase.

Clapp says this is the reason the region kept the proposed tax increase low, as most households were going to be hit by a higher tax bill because of these reassessments.

“That’s why the recommended budget is 1.8 (per cent). We’ve tried to mitigate this kind of a problem,” he told councillors.

Approximately 80,000 homes in the region can expect the equivalent of a two-per-cent or greater tax hike, not taking into account the increase in the regional tax rate, with just over 21,000 of those households located in Oshawa. This amounts to just under half of the city’s households.

Regional data, presented by Clapp, shows that this will have a larger effect on those living in single-family detached homes that are not on the waterfront, link homes, town or row houses and semi-detached homes.

While residential homeowners were given a higher assessment as a result of this process, many non-residential property owners saw their evaluations go down, meaning that a larger share of regional property tax dollars are going to be paid for by homeowners than businesses and industrial lands.

“It’s also interesting that as a result of these reassessments, without any budgetary increases, there’s a shifting in where the regional tax dollars come from,” Clapp said, noting 84.3 of property taxes will be coming from the residential sector.

The share of tax dollars shouldered by the residential sector has been on the rise compared to years past, having covered 78.7 per cent of the tax load in 1998. Non-residential properties have been on the decline, going from 21.3 per cent in 1998 to 15.7 per cent in this year’s budget.

Durham’s budget comes up for a final vote in regional council today, Feb. 8.