Letter: Kamloops residents should be concerned about industrial tax rate changes

Editor:

If you own a residential property in Kamloops, you should be aware of the city’s ongoing plan to alter several long-established tax classifications in order to shift industrial property taxes (class 4) onto residential taxpayers, as reported by KTW on April 16 (‘Lightening heavy industry’s load in Kamloops’).

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The agenda of the City of Kamloops finance committee meeting on May 13 shows that industrial tax rates will be getting a critical second look, with further changes anticipated. City planners are proposing to change the rules in order to diminish taxes on heavy industrial properties by further lowering the rates.

As well, it is being proposed that any future increased revenue gathered in the existing utilities category (class 2) be given over directly to the industrial category, bypassing potential relief for homeowners and other taxpayers or utilizing for city services.

This is significant because it is estimated the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, if it proceeds, would contribute upwards of $1 million in new taxes to the city. But this new revenue would apparently be used for the sole purpose of further reducing the amount paid by heavy industry, rather than helping all city taxpayers in an even-handed way.

In total, the city is looking to reduce heavy industrial property tax by a further $2 million in the coming years and shifting this amount to residential homeowners. Such an adjustment will result in an increase in general municipal property taxes paid by city residential property owners by more than 2.5 per cent to cover the shortfall. This is in addition to the typical two to three per cent average annual increases residential taxpayers have experienced in recent years to cover what the city calls escalating costs.

If this approach to taxation proceeds, it will remove an estimated $2 million of disposal income per year from household spending, most of which would be spent in the local retail business sector. It will also target most severely those residents on limited and fixed incomes.

In reviewing council documents, it appears this proposed move is an update from previous discussions in 2017, in which the goal was to demonstrate a need to reduce industrial tax rates in Kamloops. To make this argument, the average industrial tax rate of 12 selected municipalities was compared; however, among the 12 selected by staff, five cities collect no Industrial taxes because they have no industrial businesses in their communities. Further, only three of the sample cities have similar economic structures as Kamloops. This leaves well over half of the samples with artificially low industrial tax rates or comparisons to cities that have very different and unrelated property tax structures.

Randy Sunderman

board member

Kamloops Voters Society

 

© Kamloops This Week

 


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