City’s ‘wordsmithing’ to explain tax hikes ‘absolute nonsense’

February 11, 2024

‘The city claims that if they cannot raise taxes by double the inflation rate, then they will have to cut services’

Cambridge property taxes will have risen on average by twice the rate of inflation over the 15 year period from 2013 through 2027, based on the city’s 2024 Budget and the Bank of Canada’s projected inflation rates for 2024 – 2027.

This year’s 7 per cent increase will be 2.33 times 2024’s projected inflation, which according to StatsCanada will be 3 per cent.

The city’s increases are substantially outstripping the growth in resident incomes year after year. This is wrong, and it is unsustainable.

There’s much talk about an infrastructure funding gap – that it’s the result of keeping property taxes artificially low. One must note that property taxes weren’t kept low, as they were rising at about twice the rate of inflation.

The city has said our infrastructure needs significant investment but has not provided any facts or figures, in the budget or the annual report, to indicate the exact state of our infrastructure, the expected cost to bring it up to standard, or the recommended annual expenditure to maintain it in good repair.

Show us the facts and figures.

And by the way, according to the city’s last published annual report, there was an $85.8 million surplus in 2022, bringing the total accumulated surpluses to $896 million. 

The city is holding $362 million of our property taxes in investments, $225 million of which is held in marketable securities.

To put it into perspective, the city is sitting on more than one year’s worth of our previously paid taxes.

The city’s CFO stated at the Feb. 8 budget and audit committee meeting, “a tax levy increase of 5.76 per cent results in an impact of 2.07 per cent to the tax bill for an average household. That means the increase to the city’s budget results in an overall increase to the taxes that are paid by an average household that is below the current rate of inflation of 3.4 per cent.”

This is absolute nonsense. This statement is simply designed to shift focus away from the 7 per cent Cambridge property tax increase.

What’s important to look at is the 7 per cent increase in the City’s budget and property taxes relative to the City’s 2023 budget and property taxes for the same period. Don’t be fooled by wordsmithing.

Just because we pay taxes to more than one level of government does not mean the city’s increase is less than its actual increase.

The city claims that if they cannot raise taxes by double the inflation rate, then they will have to cut services. Why? What costs are going up double the inflation rate?

Instead of threatening to cut services, the city should clearly disclose what costs in the operating budget are going up more than inflation and work to find savings in those particular areas.

The question Cambridge residents might want to ask themselves is, “Why are Cambridge property taxes rising at twice the rate of inflation year after year while I must live on increases to my income at or below the inflation rate year after year?”

Cambridge residents, and all Waterloo Region residents for that matter, need to start speaking up and getting involved.

It’s time to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH.

John Waylett
Property Taxpayers Alliance






One response to “City’s ‘wordsmithing’ to explain tax hikes ‘absolute nonsense’”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Absolutely agree. First of all, we need complete transparency for all budget line items including broken down by departments and programs. We also need to know which councillors are standing up for us and which are allowing these increases and not pushing back on the staff to get something reasonable.

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