OUR VIEW: Time to batten down the hatches

We say: The Grim Tax Reaper is pounding on the city’s door

Well, folks, time to batten down the hatches, the fiscal storm is about to hit.

Or perhaps the more appropriate metaphor will be to tighten your belts.

The City of Campbell River is facing a $3.6 million deficit now that  it is finally facing the inevitable – the reassessment of the tax contribution to the city’s coffers from the Elk Falls pulp mill. The Catalyst-owned mill categorization was downgraded from a major industrial property to a less valuable business/other classification. That results in a $1.8 million direct loss of tax revenue. Add to that a $1.1 million tax shortfall carried over from last year plus a $1.3 million increase in costs related to contract commitments and inflationary increases, according to Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services.

This is a far cry from the $550,000 deficit that a December report to council was projecting. That figure was based on the best-case scenario, i.e., the Catalyst contribution remained the same but that wasn’t ever going to happen,  if not this year then certainly next year.

So, it means either a 24 per cent tax increase to maintain service levels or, as is most likely, a cut in services. Given that new mayor Walter Jakeway has prematurely promised there will be no new tax increase, we’re looking at significant cuts. This will please a portion of the population but are they really prepared for what that will mean? It will certainly reflect an uncommonly steadfast ideological belief on the part of Campbell River residents if this fiscal approach is implemented without significant wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So, what are you willing to give up to forego a huge tax increase?