Residents facing potential ‘tax shock’

The city needs to “pare down” or run the risk of having to make some “mildly radical” changes, according to a city councillor looking at this year’s pre-budget figures

The city needs to “pare down” or run the risk of having to make some “mildly radical” changes, according to a city councillor looking at this year’s pre-budget figures.

“The only other way around this is looking at the level of services we provide this city,” Coun. Roy Grant said. “Citizens are going to be in for a real shock if we don’t reconsider. We’ve either got to pare down considerably or we’re looking at some mildly radical solutions to the problems here.”

Coun. Claire Moglove said reducing services is a balancing act.

“When you talk about cutting services, you have to be careful you don’t cut out too much and become a city without a soul and that won’t attract new business,” she said. “While I agree to a certain extent that some service reductions have to be done I’m of the view we have to be very careful.”

City staff already cut $1.803 million from the budget by reducing expenditures in five departments.

Additional cuts “will result in reduction or elimination of services which will directly impact personnel and positions,” said Laura Ciarniello, city manager of corporate services.

The city is projected to spend $35.89 million in 2011, a reduction of $1.5 million over last year.

But revenues continue to fall, leaving the city with a $1.59 deficit largely as a result of the Catalyst mill closure.

“The impact from Catalyst is significant,” said city manager Andy Laidlaw, and it’s worse than expected.

Last month, the city estimated it would lose $1.37 million in tax revenue with the shutdown.

But an additional loss of $350,000 in utility revenue from decreased hydro consumption by Catalyst has the city out $1.7 million.

To make matters worse, Catalyst tax revenues will be reduced further in 2012 by anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000, according to Laidlaw’s budget options report.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, staff presented council with options it can take to help balance the budget.

Raising taxes by four per cent across all tax classes, with council reserving another four per cent increase towards the 2012 budget, was one method Laidlaw presented.

Coun. Grant would like to see taxation ratios altered slightly, to more evenly distribute the financial burden between the tax classes.

Currently, 20 per cent of the city’s tax revenues come from business, or about $4 million, whereas close to $15 million comes from residential.

“My contention is that we share the load somewhat equitably,” said Grant. “Some businesses in our community are suffering from the downward trend in our community but a lot of citizen taxpayers are suffering as a result of the downward trend as well.”

Grant said he would like to see consideration given to increasing the business portion to anywhere from 20.5 to 21.5 per cent.

Coun. Andy Adams noted many businesses in Campbell River are hurting and doesn’t think it would be fair to raise their taxes.

“I don’t think there’s any room for an increase in the business tax at this time,” said Adams. “I think it would also make it difficult in attracting industry that may want to invest in Campbell River. That leaves residential taxes or cutting services.”

The impact of a four per cent increase on an average home, assessed at $268,000, would be $39 which would generate $508,000 of new money for the city.

An eight per cent increase would cost a home owner $85 more and bring in $1.106 million.

Mayor Charlie Cornfield said he was not prepared Tuesday night to go ahead with any percentage increases until council knows what they mean in real dollars to home and business owners.

Another option is to use a one-time $277,000 accumulated account surplus and Strathcona Regional Tax Levy worth $611,000 to reduce the 2011 deficit to $702,000 but councillors Adams and Moglove suggested it would be prudent to save half of those funds and put them towards the 2012 budget.

City council will discuss the budget and make its final decisions March 28-April 1.













Just Posted

Campbell River RCMP arrest violent offender

Police struggle with suspect and take him down with a taser

Former Campbell Riverite reaches Everest summit

Clayton Matthews’ team got to the top of the world earlier this week

Strathcona Regional District fiscal health gradually improving, staff say

Tax and service revenue was up for the SRD in 2018, while grant money was down

VIDEO: Campbell River highschool event marks Canadian human rights milestone

50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality

Blaney plan helps seniors late with taxes

Simple solution to important issue: North Island-Powell River MP

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of Victoria Day

How much do you know about the monarch whose day we celebrate each May?

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

The father and two youngesters fell down a steep and treachorous cliff while hiking on Burke Mountain

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Most Read