Londoners feel sticker shock as tax bills with new increase arrive

Londoners feel sticker shock as tax bills with new increase arrive

London home owners who find their 2024 tax bill in the mailbox this week might want to take a seat before opening the envelope. 

Like many Londoners, Northridge resident Barb Mailer did a bit of a double take when she opened her 2024 tax notice, which lays out how much is owed for the year’s three remaining property tax installments.

She knew taxes were set to rise by an average of 7.4 per cent over the next four years, but seeing the amount in black and white has left her with more than a bit of sticker shock.

“That’s another $350 a year,” said Mailer, who lives on a fixed income. “I don’t feel they’re being very good stewards of our money, it’s like the never-ending pocket book open.”

The tax increase was approved by council in February. However, this is the first time the increase will start to hit property owners directly in the wallets.

Property taxes are paid in five installments over the course of the calendar year. However, the first two installments of 2024 are “interim” installments charged at the previous tax rate. The final three installment amounts, the first of which is due June 28, are spelled out in the “final” 2024 tax bills, which are the ones being mailed out this week. 

As the new tax bills arrived in mailboxes this week, some Londoners went to social media to vent. 

For Mailer, it’s doubly frustrating because the increase comes as she and some of her neighbours are fighting with the city over work done on their street. The city is reconstructing McTavish Crescent to add a new road surface and replace curbs and storm drains. The work has meant the removal of eight mature trees.  

The work will continue to September and Mailer feels the cost of the work isn’t worth the loss of the trees. She didn’t feel there was much road with the road surface in the first place. Now being asked to dig deeper, feels a bit excessive.

“Obviously we have to pay taxes but this one was almost 10 per cent and that is absolutely ridiculous,” she said. 

Increase will be worth it, deputy mayor says

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis said he hasn’t heard an earful from residents in his east London ward. However, he concedes his property tax notice has yet to arrive, which could explain the silence. 

London, Ont. Police Chief Thai Truong during a London Police Services Board Meeting at police headquarters on March 21, 2024.
London, Ont. Police Chief Thai Truong and his force got a big boost in the 2024-27 city budget, a key factor that drove up the property tax increase Londoners will start paying this month. (Matthew Trevithick/CBC News)

Lewis said residents upset with the increase should keep in mind that it’s largely driven by two main factors: An increase to the police budget he feels was long overdue, and a sharp increase in inflationary costs.

“Everything that the city does is costing more,” said Lewis. “And we, unlike the senior levels of government, do not run deficits. Whether it’s the asphalt patch that’s fixing a pothole, or the cost of fuel that goes into our snowplows … all of those costs are going up so there has to be an increase in the property taxes to match that.” 

The budget included an unprecedented and controversial $672M boost for police. 

Lewis said he’s already seen improvements in police service. 

“Those investments are already starting to pay dividends, in terms of improved response times,” said Lewis. “Traffic stops are happening again in our city because we have more officers out on the street. It’s still early but I think people will start to see those investments paying off.”  

The next city tax installment is due June 28.