Be very afraid – part II

Picking up where we left off last week, major industry has for years been pushing the Liberal government to do something about its municipal tax rates, as in legislate a cap on what they have to pay.

Picking up where we left off last week, major industry has for years been pushing the Liberal government to do something about its municipal tax rates, as in legislate a cap on what they have to pay.

For example, one suggestion was that industry should only pick up half a community’s tax tab.

Much as ex-premier Gordon Campbell was always willing to help his friends, even he drew the line at such an obvious switch of tax burden from industry to homeowners.

One can only assume that he recognised it would be suicidal in terms of getting re-elected.

But his successor Christy Clark appears willing to open that can of worms with the creation of the position of municipal auditor general (MAG).

At least so it appears given Community, Sports and Cultural Development minister Ida Chong’s suggestion the MAG could look at tax rates.

So let’s assume the MAG’s terms of reference include looking at the “fairness” of municipal tax rates between the various classes.

And looks at Kitimat’s performance in setting this year’s budget.

There was an option that would have seen every taxation class pay 2.5 per cent more.

It was rejected.

Instead every class except major industry got an 11 per cent cut and major industry went up more than eight per cent.

Would the MAG consider that fair?

Even if he did, I doubt that the province would step in to reverse that decision.

But what if the province decided that it was a perfect example justifying the imposition of a cap?

And let’s say it decided that 50 per cent was the right number.

In the case of Kitimat that would mean shifting $5 million from major industry – it currently pays 75 per cent – on to the other classes.

And that would mean the tax bill for those other classes would have to be just over doubled to give the city the same amount of revenue, not a pretty scenario.

All that said, I would be astonished if it happened.

It would mean that the Liberals had learned nothing from the HST fiasco.

Then again, I never thought a disgraced premier would get the Order of British Columbia.

 

Malcolm Baxter.