Ten light industrial properties in the West Sidney industrial area are facing higher taxes if the municipality can successfully change their tax rate.
On the bright side, it could take as long as two years before the rate hike could come into effect.
Citing an imbalance between the class five (light industrial) rate and those of class six properties (business), Town of Sidney staff are recommending a shift towards bringing those two rates closer together. Had class five properties been taxed at the class six rate, according to a staff report, the town would have brought in an additional $79,500 in 2012.
“This would have allowed us to reduce the general tax increase that was applied to all property classes,” stated director of corporate services Andrew Hicik in a Jan. 29 report to council.
He cites a combination of provincial tax credits, rate adjusting and no clear town policy for creating the imbalance.
“We need to have a strong economy and you can’t tax your way into that,” said Councillor Marilyn Loveless at council’s Feb. 4 meeting.
She was, however, speaking in favour of the tax rate standardization plan. Loveless noted the town has had its own costs increased in recent years and any reduction in taxes would mean a loss of some services.
“We need to have a hard look at where the town and its residents can get the best value for their tax dollars.”
Coun. Tim Chad added there’s a clear difference between the class five and six tax rates and said he’s convinced there needs to be a change.
Hicik’s report states typical light industrial taxes in B.C. municipalities are on par or greater than business taxes. Currently, Sidney’s light industrial tax is one of the lowest in the province (1.8658 times its residential rate of 2.74 per $1,000 of assessed value). In 2008, the rate was equal to the business class and affected eight properties. If the rate was increased this year, Hicik reported that it would generate an estimated $80,000 in additional revenue and reduce the projected overall tax increase in Sidney from 3.19 per cent to 2.77 per cent.
Mayor Larry Cross reminds people this is a proposed tax rate change only, and part of the town’s ongoing budget talks. He said West Sidney industrial area businesses are obviously concerned with the impact of new taxation. He added, however, the town would look to improve its services to the area as a result of the additional money brought in.
Council votes to allow staff to proceed with the rate standardization plan, looking at either a one-or-two-year phase-in period.