WE ASKED: Are you in favour of cutting services in order to prevent a tax increase? If so, what would you cut and why? If not explain if or why a tax increase is necessary.
I come from a values-based background of low taxes, sound finances, with emphasis on sustainable growth. Tax policies could be looked at through the lens of tax fairness for lower income citizens. Property taxes are a blunt instrument and can be unfair to people with low incomes. A single pensioner may only receive a monthly maximum income of $1,012. With Canada’s rising wealth gap, even more pronounced in B.C., we have to be sure taxpayers are getting fair value for their money. Like all municipalities, Campbell River is struggling to keep up with day-to-day resourcing. Since 2002, Campbell River has been shifting away from reliance on major industry taxation. Today, major industry contributes less than one per cent of our property tax base. Responsibilities have come down from federal to provincial then to the shoulders of municipal governments – regarding aging infrastructure – and have to be dealt with. The infrastructure shortfall in Canada is estimated to be in excess of $120 billion. While our property taxes do more than provide property-related services, our city’s property assessments are based on ‘property wealth’ and not on ‘income.’ We could consider modifying user fees where possible to be in line with income. The Small Communities Fund, as part of the New Building Canada Plan, is being launched. This fund presents cost-sharing between federal, provincial and local governments to help support critical infrastructure. We must also pursue a larger tax base for Campbell River, encouraging more industry, education and environmental projects to contribute.