At tonight’s committee of the whole meeting, council will be discussing industrial tax redistribution options.
Various scenarios are being proposed including a three-per-cent tax increase that could include a one-per-cent shift to business, or a one-per-cent shift to business and light industry shared 50/50, or a one-per-cent shift to light industry alone.
At the April 3 public budget meeting council passed a motion to look at a tax shift.
In seconding the motion, Mayor Kerry Cook said having the second highest industrial tax rate in the province doesn’t help.
“We’ve got a couple of things that we are facing. With industrial assessments in the city boundary, we’ve seen how they’ve decreased over the years. We just had a $2 million reduction,” Cook said, adding the business attraction strategy that came forward last year recommended a tax shift.
“It’s not coming from one proponent or one mill. It’s far bigger and I think as a city it’s important that we start to look at that whole picture,” Cook said, even if those steps are small.
Coun. Surinderpal Rathor told the mayor he didn’t think anyone would disagree with her, but his dilemma is the overall three-per-cent tax increase.
“When you shift another per cent from industrial you’re putting more burden on the people. Wherever I go the majority of the time people are telling me increasing taxes is not the way to go,” Rathor said, adding he hasn’t heard from anyone that their residential assessments have gone down.
He said he wants to give a break to industry, but under the circumstances doesn’t think he can.
Coun. Geoff Bourdon said the shift will not only be for the present, but for down the road.
“If a mill goes down and all of sudden the mill rate spikes because it’s a small tax base to start with, to me this is long term averting of a problem,” Bourdon said, adding one per cent may look insignificant in one year, but over 10 years it would be significant.
It is a hard optic, Bourdon added, and suggested council will have to take the heat for it if it’s something council supports. “There’s no way around it, but if I were to sit down with any of my constituents and explain it to them, I’m confident that most people would come to the same conclusion,” he said.
The committee of the whole meeting starts at 6 p.m.