Our ex-mayor was spin doctoring in his latest muse on Lethbridge's property tax rates (Letter to the Editor, Jan. 2 Herald). However, I am somewhat confused by his mixing of property taxes and income taxes.
The ex-mayor goes on to quote an annual survey done by the City of Edmonton on property taxes and utility charges for municipalities across Alberta and other cities in Canada (the survey). He is correct in that the City of Edmonton has stopped doing the survey as of 2010, but he fails miserably in his "analysis."
Given that residential property taxes are levied against residential properties, the level of tax should be compared to the value of the property and not taken arbitrarily as an absolute number.
Due to The Herald's constraints on word limits, let me provide you with the 2010 numbers for a few cities in Alberta found in the most recent survey (you can, of course, Google this information). The average property tax paid in Lethbridge was $2,376 with an average property value of $341,052 for a ratio of 0.0069. The average property tax paid in Red Deer was $2,578 with an average property value of $427,240, producing a ratio of 0.0061. The average property tax in Medicine Hat was $1,986 with an average property value of $339,211, producing a ratio of 0.0059. Calgary came in at $2,467/$514,466 for a ratio of 0.0048. Edmonton was at $2,640/$490,127, producing a ratio of 0.0054.
The survey also reports on average monthly utility charges. Again, observing the figures compared to property values, Lethbridge ranks the second most costly.
The most recent Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) sales figures for November 2012 show that the average selling price of a home in Lethbridge was $236,851 (a far cry from the 2010 figure). This is empirical evidence of a decline in home prices. The city's operating budget for 2012 has been set at $299,436,000. That's up 7.6 per cent from the 2011 level of $278,169,000. That means higher taxes. Who's mangling facts?