Sidney to debate industrial tax rate in its 2014 budget

Local industry pushing for change, town putting off making any decisions until budget discussions begin

Sidney is putting off making any decisions about its light industrial tax rate until budget discussions begin late this year.

Following a series of meetings earlier this year with the owners of industrial companies in west Sidney who have been seeking concessions in the tax rate, Town council asked staff for its input on potential changes to their taxation policy. Director of Corporate Services Andrew Hicik advised there are two options to consider in the industrial properties request: shift the tax burden to the residential class or reduce spending and services.

Council, at their Nov. 13 audit and finance committee meeting, unanimously voted to stick with the Town’s current tax policy and make no changes to tax rates to accommodate the industrial sector.

At the Nov. 25 regular meeting, however, that decision was not upheld and the entire issue moved to budget talks.

Mayor Larry Cross said that discussion should occur during the Town’s budget process — a decision any earlier he said would tie council’s hands when trying to lay out the municipality’s finances for the next year.

Cross added at some point council will make a decision on its tax impact on both the industrial sector and its residents, saying it won’t be easy.

“It’s not playing it safe at all (putting off a decision now),” he said. “You’ll have to pay the piper eventually.”

During a recent tour of industry hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, companies on the tour listed business taxation in the region as a top barrier to further success.