An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE NEW CHAIR of the Thompson Regional Hospital District needs to be careful about sounding as though Sun Rivers residents and other leaseholders on Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc land aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.
Kamloops City councillor Mike O’Reilly keeps talking about what he sees as inequities in the collection of taxes for hospitals in the region. He repeated his concerns as he took the gavel at the inaugural meeting of the new hospital district board, concerns that his predecessor in the chair — former mayor Ken Christian — also promoted.
“Our friends at Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge are not paying into the hospital tax for the regional district to the tune of $250,000 a year,” O’Reilly said after being acclaimed as the new chair.
“We need to look at equal taxation for Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge” to pay for the services they get from RIH, he said.
But what must be acknowledged is that levying an additional tax of roughly $160 per year — the estimated amount paid by other hospital district residents — on Sun Rivers and Sienna Ridge would actually create tax inequity.
When Sun Rivers was established by federal law, it was determined that its residents should pay similar property taxes as their Kamloops neighbours.
In other words, a house in Sun Rivers should be taxed about the same as a house of similar value in the city.
So when O’Reilly and the rest of the hospital board go looking for $250,000, it’s a lot more complicated than simply getting authority to add more taxes. That money must come from within the taxes already being paid.
Since the Tk’emlúps band has no interest in diverting any of its current tax revenue to hospitals, any remedy must come through the federal and provincial governments.
TteS leasehold residents are willing to pay their fair share, but they shouldn’t have to pay more. They aren’t getting a free ride.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.