October 19 2012 – Victoria
Victoria – CRD Taxpayers’ Association alarmed at proposed Transit Tax Hike
Proposed transit tax hike three times higher than increase in expenses
At its December meeting, the Victoria Transit Commission will be considering recommendations for a three year transit service plan that includes transit tax hikes and transit fare increases. According to the BC Transit report presented to the Victoria Transit Commission on September 11th, the expected increase in transit costs at current service levels is 8.7% over the next three year period but the proposed transit tax hike under consideration is over three times higher, or 29% over the next three years.
Since the Provincial transit subsidy increases with increased operating costs, the disproportionate impact on transit property taxes is currently unexplained. The Committee report did not include corresponding projections for transit passenger, advertising or fuel tax revenues or an explanation of any variance in the regulated 31.7% in Provincial subsidy revenues.
In a separate section of the September report, four transit fare increase options were outlined with basic fare increases ranging from 25 cents to 50 cents per fare including an option to raise senior and youth fares to the current $2.50 level.
The three year transit tax hike for current transit services would result in a three year transit property tax increase of $34.75 for a residential property with a 2011 assessed value of $536,000. For commercial properties, the three year increase is estimated by the Association to be $ 315 based on a 2011 assessment of $ 1 million.
BC Transit also placed service expansion options before the Commission which could result in three year increases in transit taxes of up to $49.75 for a residential property and $450 (estimated) for a commercial property with an assessed value of one $1 million. BC Transit offered up no service changes or reductions to offset these large residential and commercial tax increases even though previous reports to the Commission have identified poorly performing routes and inefficient services as candidates for cost-savings.
Even with transit fare increases, the three year transit property tax increase could still be between $28.70 and $43.70 for residential properties and between $260 and $395 for commercial properties depending on the fare increase option selected.
The transit service expansions from 2005 to 2011 have resulted in no increase in transit market share and instead have resulted in a decline in the number of passengers carried per service hour. These are clear indications that the “If you build it they will come” business model is not working and that increasing transit service hours should not be undertaken without a serious look at underperforming routes and services. The Victoria Transit Commission needs to revisit transit services that are ineffective and inefficient. Buses carrying few or no passengers are needlessly contributing to operating losses and greenhouse gases.
“The Association believes that it is the Victoria Transit Commission’s responsibility to obtain a comprehensive explanation from BC Transit as to why transit taxes are rising at three times the increased cost of providing the service and seriously consider looking at all the options to minimize tax increases” remarks Bev Highton, the Chair of the CRD Taxpayers’ Association.
* For additional information, contact:
Bev Highton, Chair, CRD Business & Residential Taxpayers’ Association
Tel: 250 361-8411