Councillor Survey Question 4

Do you think property taxes are too high, too low, or just about right?

Rajko Dodic:

The City of Edmonton used to publish a apples to apples comparison of property taxes and utility rates across the province. They looked at both items because it gave a better picture of the total an average resident pays for services over a year. If I recall correctly, back then, the City was right in the middle of the pack of 15 cities that were looked at. Unfortunately, Edmonton stopped doing that because I expect they saw that they tended to be on the high end of the scale. In terms of where we stand now, I can't say how we compare other than the fact that taxes have not decreased but it appears there has been a decrease in services (examples being the parks maintenance and Police budget reductions alluded to in an earlier reply).


Nick Paladino:

I think taxes are a bit too high. We don’t have a taxation problem, we have a spending problem. Council must establish the difference between a “need” and a “want”. In the last 4 years, I don’t recall this council saying “no” to many requests for funding.


Bill Ginther:

I can’t comment on this with authority but from what I’m hearing, the City of Lethbridge is taxed quite heavily compared to other similar sized cities.


Mark Campbell:

We are at a disadvantage in the city in the disproportionate amount of property taxes we pay and that's based a lot on the fact that 8 out of our 10 biggest businesses don't pay property tax. We need more non-residential tax dollars to even that out.


Ryan Wolfe:

Ultimately, taxes are too high. The residents need to elect a council that is firm on maintaining a focus on selective and efficient spending. Several candidates often use the word "free" in their presentations without admitting that nothing is "Free". You and I pay when someone else gets something for nothing. This is a dangerous way of thinking. I really want to work with a council that wants to avoid tax increases. We pay enough.


Kelti Baird:

Lethbridge is a bit of a puzzle when it comes to property taxes. We have high taxes, but also have high quality amenities and services to match. I believe there are some efficiencies to be made in the community but I will not lower taxes if it means sacrificing those amenities or services. If people feel underserved in the community I am interested to learn more and work within our current means to ensure that everyone in the community feels adequately served.


Tim VanderBeek:

Property taxes are too high.


Ryan Lepko:

Depends who you ask. Me, they are to high.


Davey Wiggers:

When excluding non-residential (business) property taxes, Lethbridge has the second highest mill rate in the province, Grande Prairie having the highest. Several incumbent councilors have tried to downplay that statistic by including business property taxes into the formula, then further lessening the blow by listing the number as a per capita statistic as represented per 100,000 residents. Mark Twain once said that there are 3 kinds of lies. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics.


Dale Leier:

Too high according to all the metrics leaving us uncompetitive and vulnerable in a downturn.


Belinda Crowson:

At present, Lethbridge’s taxes are about average in Lethbridge compared to representative communities in the province. However, this discussion isn’t only about tax level. It’s about what is being done with the taxes. Are residents getting value for the taxes they are paying? Do our tax rates keep us competitive with other communities and thus support business development and encourage people to live here? Can we show value for money? Are we spending money in the appropriate places and achieving the results and benefits that the community wants, deserve and needs? The lack of good KPIs in the city and the lack of an appropriate way to share these measurements and goals with the community makes answering some of these questions difficult. Work started on developing appropriate KPIs under the last Council and is progressing. Within the term of the next Council, a comprehensive community dashboard will exist that will help guide these conversations between Council and the community.


Harold Pereverseff

The property taxes in Lethbridge are simply too high.


Shelby MacLeod:

I understand the taxpayer's concern - regarding how much or the possibilities of their property tax rising, especially the Senior or fixed income person/family.  Every time I open a utility type envelope; gas/electric the energy unit and those expensive line charge have risen, then there is the: house and car insurance costs have risen, then there's the rising food costs we see changing weekly.  With all those ongoing basic cost increases - the family savings account is shrinking or empty.  When that yearly tax notice arrives, households get taxpayer - sticker shock.  I think this new council must be very clear on what they are trying to do to hold the costing - taxation lines.  We know building new is great, but let's complete our current projects, ensuring the taxpayer can fund the ongoing cost.  Infrastructure maintenance and staff wages are obligations we must deal with and account for a major spending part of the city budget that affect the taxpayer mill rate.   This council must spend sensibly and review the sustainability of current policy pledges, visions and the City's Civic Work Strategic plans.


Jenn Schmidt-Rempel:

The City of Lethbridge is facing some immediate challenges, and we’re going to need to have some honest conversations around level of service and fiscal management. Our taxes pay for services, and we need to evaluate spending based on service levels and program effectiveness. Council is going to have to ensure our residents feel they are receiving good value for their tax dollars, while investing where we need to invest, such as with our first responders, firefighters, and police services. We also need to ask residents where they can find efficiencies in the services they use. We can all cut programs we don’t use, so we need to start by evaluating all our programs and ask those who use them where they can find efficiencies.


Darcy Logan:

We have a high level of service delivery, and we are heavily taxed for it. It is easy to say taxes are too high, and I hate losing a chunk of my income myself. But I don't support lowering them and compromising any of the important services the municipality currently offers. I certainly don't want to see them insidiously creep higher, either. This is a complicated conversation I hope to have with colleagues, peers, and the broader community.


Robin Walker:

It seems to me that property taxes are definitely too high when compared to other municipalities in Canada. Lately Lethbridge rates have been among the highest in the province, in 2016 behind only Grande Prairie, and in 2019 the highest among the 10 largest cities in the province.

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