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.