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Average homeowner could pay $200 more in taxes in five years

Richmond homeowners could pay an average of $200 more in annual property taxes by 2015, according to city council's five-year financial plan.

Civic politicians endorsed the plan Monday, cementing a 2.95 per cent tax increase this year.

The plan also lays out projected tax increases for the next four years, averaging 3.1 per cent annually. For the average Richmond home, the cumulative tax increase is approximately $200.

Coun. Ken Johnston said the tax burden is "becoming onerous" for homeowners.

"These are not my objectives and goals. I think we have to strive to do better... This is not a goal that I want to achieve."

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the numbers aren't targets, but represent the best plan staff can come up with by looking into the future.

If past practice is an indicator, however, it's unlikely city council will manage to avoid the increases.

In the last five years, tax increases have ranged from a low of 2.94 per cent to a high of 3.98 per cent.

City managers are also beginning their push for council to approve $500,000 in new spending each year—from 2012 to 2015—for new staff, services and equipment. City council has resisted any new significant spending since 2009, given the weight of contracted wage increases during a global recession.

"We're starting to feel some of the pressure with all this growth," said Andrew Nazareth, the city's general manager of finance.

Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt said she'd only be willing to accept a three per cent tax increase after "a detailed look."

"I would love to make it zero every year, but unfortunately outside forces sometimes prohibit that."

City council must still ratify the financial plan.

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