Kimberley City Council had its first budget deliberation meeting for the 2022 to 2026 financial plan last week, and once again there was discussion as to whether to continue the $80 per year reduction in the flat tax, or whether to pause it. Once again, council was split on the decision.
But the motion to reduce the flat tax by a further $80 was passed by a four to three vote.
Next year’s flat tax will be reduced per improved property by $80 to $306 per property in 2022. The flat tax on unimproved properties will not be reduced, the hope being that this might provide some incentive to b build on undeveloped lots.
Council began the $80 year reduction of the flat tax five years ago, after some vigorous debate.
Councillor Kent Goodwin said it might be wise to delay the decision because there was potential for a new parcel tax to be imposed if Kimberley gets the funding for a new waste water treatment plant.
The argument for reducing flat taxes is so that lower valued properties do not pay the same as higher valued ones. so if a property worth $100,000 or $200,000 has the flat tax reduced, their overall variable rate property tax goes down, while those on higher valued properties go up.
Count. Jason McBain pointed out that given the recent rise in property values there were very few properties valued under $200,000. He suggested pausing the decrease this year.
Mayor Don McCormick said that the flat tax reduction was revenue neutral, the city receives the same amount in taxes either way.
Goodwin countered that it doesn’t matter that there are fewer inexpensive properties, the point in gradually reducing the flat tax is that the more a property is worth, the more it pays.
“We should base as many taxes as we can on property values,” he said.
Coun. Darryl Oakley said that council had been working for several years to get rid of the flat tax in a fair manner for years. He said flat taxes only work in communities with a heavy industrial tax base, which Kimberley used to have but no longer does.
Coun. Kyle Dalum said that recent increases in property taxes were staggering and there were people riding a fine line between keeping or losing their house. Therefore, he said, he would vote against lowering it.
McCormick said council had the same discussion every year about the flat tax and they should just vote and get on with it.