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Mayor stands firm on taxes

Mayor Walter Jakeway criticized council for its spending habits Tuesday night as councillors pushed forward with another tax increase.

Council gave first three readings to a 2.92 per cent residential tax increase which council approved during budget planning in January.

The tax rate needs to be adopted before May 15 and sent to the province for final approval.

But not everyone on council was on board.

Jakeway opposed the budget, saying there is no need to raise taxes.

“Our taxes in the last three years have gone up 21.4 per cent and that’s outrageous,” Jakeway said. “There’s no way I’ll be supporting that.

“Minus five, minus five, minus five would’ve been much more appropriate.”

Jakeway said the 2014-2018 financial plan has too many expenses.

“I believe our city is spending far too much and we’re taxing far too much,” Jakeway said. “We need to change our plan for the next five years to correct that situation, so I’ll be voting no.”

Coun. Andy Adams agreed that residents are paying enough as it is in taxes and ensured Tuesday that if TimberWest is successful in challenging its tax increase, it won’t be made up by residential taxpayers.

Dennis Brodie, the city’s finance operations manager, wrote in a city staff report last week said that if TimberWest wins, a $27,468 shortfall would be “shifted to the residential class (and) it would result in an approximate $2 increase to the average house, bringing the overall residential tax increase to 3.07 per cent or $43.”

Adams argued Tuesday that shouldn’t even be on the table for consideration.

“I would suggest that would not be contemplated at all and I would suggest if the managed forest land decision is challenged successfully that the $27,468 shortfall come from a reduction in the budget and not be added to the residential taxpayers.”

Council agreed with Adams and voted to look elsewhere in the budget for the money should TimberWest’s supreme court petition be successful.

TimberWest is challenging the city’s managed forest lands tax increase from $2.29 per thousand dollars of assessed value to the provincial average of $13.98, a total tax increase of $27,468 to be phased in over three years.

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