MONDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — A reader raised a good point on the weekend about the City’s application to extend its boundaries to take in the New Afton mine.
If you’re a resident of Kamloops, the issue might seem moot since, if the addition of a major industry helps reduce your taxes what does it matter? Except that the mayor has given a pretty clear signal that new tax revenues from New Afton wouldn’t go towards cutting residential property taxes — rather, they would be used to spread the pain a little more thinly among heavy industry.
Major industries in Kamloops formed a lobbying coalition several years ago and annually press City council to lower their share of the taxes. As reported in Sunday’s Armchair Mayor News, their case will be up for discussion at the council table again this week.
The obvious way to reduce taxes in one tax category is to raise them in another. That’s always been a tough nut to crack for civic politicians, since industry is influential and persuasive but homeowners carry the weight of the votes come election time.
The Milobar Doctrine would go at least a short distance to lessening the burden on incumbent industries by bringing in New Afton. But what does New Gold get out of its New Afton operation being taken in by the City?
There will be no City services extended to New Afton — the mayor has made that pretty clear.
The justification, whether or not you think it’s a strong one, is that New Afton’s employees by and large live in Kamloops, use City services such as water and sewer and recreation, drive on City roads and use City parks. Therefore, the logic goes, the City is justified in wanting taxes from the mine.
It’s the same argument that was used several years ago when the Cache Creek mega dump was being expanded and some other parts of the regional district felt royalty revenues should be shared region wide. No, said Cache Creek and Ashcroft, we’re the ones who have to provide the services to those who work there.
In the end, the argument is as much a philosophical one as it is an accounting exercise. The TNRD has yet to weigh into this one but when it does we can expect the rationale of indirect provision of services to be raised.