City of Iqaluit raises property taxes by 3%
Water and sewer bills will also rise with council approval of 2022 rates
Iqaluit residents will pay three per cent more in property taxes, as well as more for water and sewer services, after city council voted Monday to set its rates for 2022.
The city’s residential sanitation fee, which covers sewage, will go up two per cent, to $53.36 from $52.31, while water rates will increase from $0.02 per litre to 0.0201 per litre, or 0.5 per cent, said Coun. Kyle Sheppard, the finance committee chairperson.
The property tax hike affects all classes, which include residential, commercial and government properties. Owners of single family homes will pay an additional $70 to $115 a year.
Sheppard said the increases are due to rising operating costs. Fuel, for example, is more expensive, and the city signed a new contract with its employees in July which includes wage increases for the next two years.
The city also has to cover about $8 million worth of sewage upgrades which are needed to develop more buildings, and $5.5 million worth of water system upgrades.
“Costs keep adding up, and we did everything we could to keep the increases as low as possible this year,” he said.
“From a bottom-line standpoint, compared to how significant the increases could have been, I’m pretty happy with what we were able to arrive at.”
City councillors voted unanimously for each increase, choosing the lowest raise in water and sanitation fees that was presented by city administration and the second-lowest increase in property taxes.
From Oct. 12 to Dec. 10 last year, the city was under an advisory to not consume Iqaluit’s treated water, due to fuel contamination in the municipal water supply.
The contamination issue has returned several times since the advisory was lifted, and the city’s water treatment plant has been offline since Jan. 19.
Sheppard said the water rate increase isn’t strictly due to the water emergency, and council could have increased it more in an effort to recover the approximately $3.5 million spent to get through the crisis.
Instead, the city chose to draw down money in its water and sewage fund to pay for the emergency. It has also sent in applications to recoup that money through the Nunavut government’s municipal assistance program.
As well, the city had plans to locate a new water source beside Lake Geraldine long before the water emergency happened.
“The only path to lower taxes, the only path to lower water rate is to grow our population. And for that to happen we need that investment in the long-term water supply,” Sheppard said.