City council considers tax shift

City council has tasked staff to back a tax increase option to include a one per cent shift away from industrial taxation.

City council has tasked staff with bringing back a tax increase option of a three per cent tax increase to include a one per cent shift away from industrial taxation that would be shared 50/50 by business and residential taxation.

During a committee of the whole meeting Tuesday evening, council considered various scenarios around a tax shift, and in the end felt that by shifting one per cent to be shared by residential and business, the least impact would be felt.

Staff will prepare the final numbers for council to consider before the tax rate bylaw is prepared for its first three readings at the April 17 regular council meeting.

There was an increase in business/and other assessments of $2.7 million and in residential assessments of $12 million in 2012 over 2011, which is why council is considering the tax shift to those two tax classes, said Mayor Kerry Cook.

“The only reason I’m looking at the shift to business and residential is because we’ve had a healthy increase in assessment to business and residential so the shifting to those classes will be very, very minor because of those huge increases.”

Councillors Ivan Bonnell and Surinderpal Rathor voted against staff pursuing the option; Cook and councillors Danica Hughes, Geoff Bourdon and Sue Zacharias voted in favour.

“This isn’t a huge change or shift. What we’re talking about is very minor shifting,” Cook said.

During the meeting chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers outlined where Williams Lake sits provincially in its tax classifications based on 2010 rates.

Out of 144 municipalities, the city sits 28 from the top in residential taxation, third in major industrial, 15 in light industry, and 64 in business taxation.

The community of Terrace is above in all categories, while Quesnel is lower in most categories, and just above in business, Carruthers said.

Cook said the dilemma all along in taxation discussions is that looking line by line doesn’t depict the whole picture.

“In 2010 we’re number 3 and Quesnel is number 8 in major industry. What it doesn’t show is that we’re at $88 and Quesnel is at $59 per $100,000 so you can’t just use one piece of information.”

Quesnel has over 60 per cent of its tax revenue represented by industry, whereas for Williams Lake it’s almost 24 per cent, Cook said, adding that industrial taxation has increased in Williams Lake recently because the city has lost more than $2 million in taxation due to dropped assessments.

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