Hamilton tax hikes by ward: how much more will you pay?

Where you live makes a big difference in how much extra in taxes you can expect to pay this year.

News 09:06 PM by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Spectator file photo

Rising property values will again translate into higher tax hikes for homeowners in Wards 1 through 3 this year.

City council recently approved a 2019 operating budget of about $887 million, including a tax levy increase of about $30 million.

That means the “average” owner of a Hamilton home worth $358,600 can expect to pay an extra $88 in city taxes, or 2.5 per cent more than last year. (Water rates will add an extra $32, too.)

But where you live can make a big difference in your actual tax hike.

For example, the average tax increase in Ward 1 is 4.4 per cent (an extra $173), while the urban portion of Ward 13-Dundas will see an average hike of less than one per cent (an extra $29).

Part of that disparity is due to “higher-than-average” spikes in property value in parts of the lower city as determined by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation, said acting city manager Mike Zegarac.

The last round of MPAC assessments called for an average 27 per cent bump in Hamilton property values phased in over four years. (We’re in the third year of that cycle.)

So, anyone seeing above-average increases to their assessed home value should also brace for a relatively higher tax hike outside of whatever extra spending the city approved.

Zegarac noted assessment-related tax hikes in the old city don’t translate into more cash for the city to spend. Instead, taxpayers in other parts of the city benefit from a corresponding “easing of the burden.”

By ward, the highest “average” tax hike in 2019 is technically in Ward 3, at 4.5 per cent. But the ward also has some of the lowest assessed property values in Hamilton, so that hike translates into about $95 extra.

Ward 1 has relatively higher property values to go along with its 4.4 per cent tax hike.

But the west end also has older residents and young families who will struggle with the relative spike in taxes, said Coun. Maureen Wilson.

“There is a real impact that you can’t ignore,” she said, adding that’s one reason she supports a planned light rail transit line as a way to promote development and “grow our tax base.”

Wilson also argued the city must control tax hikes via “sustainable development” rather than costly sprawl — as well as by boosting development charges to actually cover the cost of maintaining city infrastructure. Council will tackle that thorny issue later this year.

Interestingly, Ancaster Coun. Lloyd Ferguson has also pointed to tax shifts due to reassessment as a reason to support LRT, arguing more lower city development will translate into suburban tax relief.

The lowest urban ward tax hikes in 2019 go to residents of Dundas and select urbanized pockets of Ward 11 (1.6 per cent, extra $58.)

The Dundas tax relief is due in part to reassessment, but also to a budget reduction for planned parkland purchases that were area-rated specifically to taxpayers in that community.

Which is a good reminder: the amount of tax you pay is also affected by the city services you get.

Old city wards pay more of the freight for the HSR (and represent the vast majority of bus riders) and so will see more of a tax impact from a 14 percent transit budget bump.

Rural parts of the city with volunteer firefighting service and no transit, by comparison, will see lower tax hikes, mostly below 2 per cent. Depending on average property values, that could mean you pay anywhere from an extra $43 to $71 this year.

The city actually breaks down the ward averages by urban, rural and service levels.

In a month or two, you will also be able to see the breakdown for your own property using a city tool at taxcalculator.hamilton.ca.

Average ward tax hikes by % (urban area)

Ward 3 ($208,200): 4.5% or $95 extra

Ward 1 ($385,000): 4.4% or $173 extra

Ward 2 ($261,800): 4.3% or $115 extra

Ward 4 (219,100): 3.3% or $74 extra

Ward 7 ($318,800): 3.1% or $103 extra

Ward 8 ($346,400): 3% or $109 extra

Ward 14 ($383,600): 2.9% or $113 extra

Ward 6 (314,900): 2.7% or $89 extra

Ward 5 ($296,600): 2.5% or $74 extra

Ward 10 ($396,300): 2.1% or $77 extra

Ward 9 ($378,800): 2% or $70 extra

Ward 15 ($499,900): 1.9% or $89 extra

Ward 12 ($512,800): 1.7% or $82 extra

Ward 11 (361,100): 1.6% or $58 extra

Ward 13 ($457,400): 0.7% or $29 extra


905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec