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LETTER – City’s shift in tax burden from industry to homeowners is unfair

May 10, 2019

RE: Industrial Tax Rate Discussion 

Dear Kamloops Mayor and Council:

The Kamloops Voters Society (KVS) is concerned with the City’s on-going plan to alter several long-established tax classifications and effectively shift a portion of industrial property taxes (Class 4) onto residential taxpayers.

The agenda of the City of Kamloops Finance Committee meeting for 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 that the Trans Mountain pipeline, 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.

The KVS would like our concerns, as outlined in this letter, to be entered into the record and considered by the Finance Committee during their review process on Monday.

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 over 2.5% to cover the shortfall. This is in addition to the typical 2% to 3% average annual increases that residential taxpayers have experienced in recent years to cover what the City calls “escalating costs.”

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

In reviewing council documents, it appears that 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 is compared; however, among the twelve 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 who have very different and unrelated property tax structures.

Please be aware that the KVS is opposed to the unfair changes to tax categories now being considered, as we believe they will be harmful to Kamloops homeowners and other taxpayers. We intend to pursue our concerns through a public campaign to educate and inform Kamloops voters about this issue.

RANDY SUNDERMAN
Board member, Kamloops Voters Society

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About Mel Rothenburger (6999 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca 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 ArmchairMayor.ca 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 LETTER – City’s shift in tax burden from industry to homeowners is unfair

  1. Kamloops is under pressure for tax competitiveness for businesses which provide for a considerable amount of employment…which provides, the long way around, residential tax revenues.
    The KVS was made aware of quirky approaches to procurements as well as other interesting ways our City’s administrators spend our tax dollars. The spending is as important as the percentage we pay but the KVS did not seem interested, which is really odd.
    We really do need a divine entity to save us from ourselves!

  2. Robert A Bruce // May 10, 2019 at 4:12 PM // Reply

    So if they want to offload the industrial base of tax on us. Can they then charge the industrial base on a per load scheme. Trucks come and go for the industrial business on roads we pay for, Please pay for the trucks as they do a majority of damage and wear to the roads. I would think 50 per load would do. Also any infrastructure the industrial base uses is subsidized by homeowners, so how about we charge them a yearly amount for all connections. Say 3000 per connection- of any type, water, electrical, sewer, drainage, internet, etc. They need to pay for right of way’s that were set aside for them. These would be on top of existing charges. Then, I’m sure we could come up with more….I fully agree with NOT changing the structure. But would support a usage based system. Everyone has to pay their share. Including business.

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