Candidates Warn Richmond Residents Tax Bill Set to Skyrocket in Wake of Economic Slowdown

For Immediate Release

November 6, 2008

RICHMOND – Richmond Council must be prudent to avoid the skyrocketing of resident tax bills in 2009 and the years to follow due to the slowing economy and financial challenges on the road ahead, Richmond City Council Candidate Kiichi Kumagai said today on behalf of the Richmond First Team.

“Stock markets are falling, housing prices are down, but projections show higher and higher tax bills in the years ahead” said council candidate Kumagai. “The increased cost pressures facing Richmond are immense and unless we move in a different direction Richmond residents are going to see their tax bill skyrocket.”

Kumagai, a 30-year Richmond Councillor and longtime chair of the City’s Finance Committee, has reviewed the records and commitments of the city over the next few years and it shows a property tax increase of almost 4% in 2009, alongside an 8% utility bill increase in the same calendar year. This is at the very same time as new housing statistics show detached house prices have fallen 9.8% since May in the Greater Vancouver area and growth projections are being downgraded.

“Watching your tax bill go up so dramatically while at the same time watching your property value go down is counterintuitive and really something that shouldn’t happen,” said longtime Councillor Bill McNulty. “I voted against the budget in 2008 because I believed the tax increase was too steep, but it looks like we’re headed down that road again and that’s not something I think taxpayers will like to see.”

“I’ve always been a firm believer in making fiscal accountability a top priority,” said Councillor Derek Dang. “With everything taking a downturn in the economy and construction sector we need to take a sober second look at everything we’re doing from here on out.”

In June, a report released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business showed that the City of Richmond is spending more than twice the combined rate of inflation and population growth. The report also showed that if local governments had held increases to the rate of inflation and population growth, taxes would have been 17-per-cent lower in 2006 and B.C. residents would have been left with $502 million in their pockets for that year alone.

“Instead of always tapping in to the wallets of taxpayers we need to look at our priorities and fund them accordingly,” said Richmond First council candidate Ken Johnston. “When I see $10-million being spent on an Olympic party, I think we need to remember who’s money is being spent – the taxpayer’s money.”

The Richmond First Team is sending an issue-orientated brochure across Richmond to heighten public awareness around the rising taxation issue. These brochures will reach thousands of Richmond doorsteps this week in advance of the November 15, 2008 civic election.

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