Opinion: Delta taxpayers left holding the bag

It sure would be nice if we all had our own fall guy.

There’s been much finger pointing since the NDP government introduced the employer health tax that’s shifting the burden for Medical Services Plan premiums, but thankfully I think there’s still room to get in on the action.

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The tax has created winners and losers, and the City of Delta would have to be considered one of those losers as it’s on the hook for a million bucks, give or take, now that employers are footing the bill for MSP premiums. City hall has been forced to come up with the money for that new-found cost so – surprise, surprise – it’s turning to taxpayers to cover the tab.

To be fair to Delta, it’s another taxing authority that’s creating this cost, but there’s no getting around the fact that our new council is taking the easy way out on this one. Rather than find efficiencies in an operating budget that’s well in excess of $200 million, it’s simpler to pass along the cost and point the finger at the provincial government.

If only all of us had that luxury.

When additional costs are imposed on our household budgets, it’s not like we can turn to some money fairy and say, “Hey, do you mind covering this one?” It doesn’t work like that in the real world.

When our expenses rise because, let’s say, our property tax bill is three per cent higher or our utility bill is also up three per cent or our car insurance is going up six per cent, we have to find that money from somewhere else in our household budgets. Cost of living increases on the revenue side typically don’t keep pace, so it forces us to pare other expenses in order to make ends meet.

The cost Delta is passing along to cover the employer health tax is only $23 for the average home, so from a dollar standpoint it’s certainly not a big deal. And if you’re one of those no longer having to shell out $75 per month in MSP premiums, you’re coming out way ahead even with the extra amount on your property tax bill.

However, it doesn’t get around the fact there continues to be a willingness to levy charges that outstrip inflation. Piling one hike on top of another wouldn’t be a big deal if taxpayers could offload some of those costs, but unfortunately we’re already at the bottom of the hill.

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