Kimberley City Council has voted to give first, second and third readings to the Flat Tax bylaw which, if adopted, will decrease flat tax on improved residential properties and increase the flat tax on vacant lots, effective in 2020.
If Council moves forward with the bylaw, improved residential properties will see a reduction of $80 from $546 to $466, while vacant lots will see an increase of $90 from $310 to $400.
Chief Financial Officer Jim Hendricks explained in a report to Council that when implemented in 1990, the level of flat tax levied per parcel was $400 for improved residential properties and $100 for vacant residential lots.
Since then, the level of flat tax has been amended by bylaw a number of times and in 2015 the per parcel levy was $786 on improved residential properties and $310 on vacant residential lots. Each year since 2016, there has been an $80 reduction to the flat tax on improved residential properties.
Hendricks wrote, “in accordance with the October 21, 2019 Council resolution, the $80 decrease to the flat tax on improved residential properties will not impact the total amount of municipal property tax revenue collected in 2020 as the variable tax rate will be increased to a level where sufficient variable tax revenue is collected to offset the amount of flat tax revenue being lost.”
The increase to vacant lots, Hendricks said, is the first increase in “quite some time” and will bring in new tax revenue to the City. He adds that 2020 tax rates will go up or down depending where a home falls into the schedule.
Council voted four to three in favour of the first three readings of the bylaw, with Mayor Don McCormick, Councillor Sandra Roberts and Councillor Kyle Dalum voting against.
Councillor Kent Goodwin said that he is in support of the flat tax reduction.
“The more expensive your house is, the more taxes you should pay, and the less expensive your house is, the less you should pay,” he said at Monday’s meeting. “It makes it easier for those trying to get into the market or afford a home.”
He said that the same applies for large commercial buildings, pointing to the Kimberley Aquatic Centre as an example.
Mayor Don McCormick said he is not in support of the flat tax reduction and disagreed with Goodwin.
“We’ve reduced the flat tax for the last three out of four years, but we could see an increase to mill-rate taxes of up to 9 per cent… Many people who own cheaper homes are landlords, and I don’t believe that the renters will see those savings,” said the Mayor. “We’ve had a difficult budget year this year and we are trying to keep the mill rate at the rate of inflation, which is two per cent, but I don’t know where that will land. I think we need to be in the interest of all taxpayers.”