Lots to think about with City’s finances

Future site for performing arts centre?

Future site for performing arts centre?

THURSDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — The term “cash grab” usually refers to an attempt to take advantage of a demand for something without giving value in return.

That’s probably what Mayor Peter Milobar meant this week when he said the City’s application to annex the New Afton mine property shouldn’t be construed as a cash grab.

Milobar’s explanation is that it’s an exercise in taxation fairness. For example, he said, by broadening the tax base of heavy industries within the City, existing industries will see some reduction in the property taxes they pay.

One of them is the Domtar pulp mill, upon which a number of sawmills around the region depend on as a customer for their chips. A healthier Domtar — due to lower taxes — thereby makes for a healthier regional economy.

It’s a rationale he hasn’t raised before and, indeed, not one we’ve heard previously expressed by anyone. We leave it to economists to explain whether the argument is valid.

It’s worth looking at the taxation issue in the context of recent events, however. The City is moving forward with a $4.8 million purchase of the Kamloops Daily News building, which appears most likely slated for conversion into parking.

Council also wants to build a new performing arts centre, which is an excellent project but an expensive one — guestimates range into tens of millions of dollars.

The possibility of incorporating the new arts centre into the Hotel 540 was broached Wednesday and, why not? — our current theatre is attached to a school. Maybe a theatre attached to a hotel would be a good deal for the taxpayers but it’s only one of several possibilities for the project.

The widening of Columbia Street is on the horizon, and it’s also very possible the City will acquire the Stuart Wood building, which it already owns but will have to decide what to do with if it closes as a school.

A committee is working away at planning for an upgrade to the Tranquille Road corridor. Todd Road in Barnhartvale will be upgraded, too. And so on and so forth. Some of these projects are funded, some have yet to be funded. With a civic election set for November, Kamloops taxpayers deserve to receive a clear outline of where the City is going with its finances.

Another public session like the one it had on its budget a couple of months ago might be just the ticket. Events are overtaking that meeting, informationally speaking, and some updated explanations of what residents are facing is appropriate.

About Mel Rothenburger (7457 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on Lots to think about with City’s finances

  1. Lyman Duff // May 1, 2014 at 6:18 AM // Reply

    Taxation, taxation, taxation. City council should take a deep, hard look at how money is spent as of right now. Methinks there is a lot of waste everywhere. Talking to senior managers from time to time gives me the impression that change is very hard to come by in every aspect of the city’s operations. That observation is then confirmed almost every time I observe city’s crews working or survey the work they have performed.

    • If Milobar and Council keep this up, pretty soon Kamloops will be like Vancouver….no one will be able to afford to live there.

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