Although Kimberley City Council, by a vote of four to three, decided to knock $80 off of Kimberley’s flat tax last week, Mayor Don McCormick is going to ask them to have another look at it.
The flat tax was brought into play years ago to try to compensate for widely varying property values in Kimberley. In the early 2000s for example, you could have a house in the downtown area valued at $50,000 while a new home on the ski hill might be valued at $600,000 or more. The flat tax meant that both the properties paid the same amount as a portion of their taxes rather than relying solely on the mill rate.
Coun. Kent Goodwin has argued against the flat tax for some time, saying it was unfair and regressive. He campaigned on that idea in 2014.
“Kimberley is one of only five communities in B.C. with a flat tax,” he told Council last week. “And our flat tax is the highest in B.C. Reducing it slowly over the next 10 years is a good step forward.”
Councillors Kitto, Middlebrook and Oakley agreed and the motion passed, but not before McCormick argued vigorously against the move.
“The flat tax taxes lower value homes at the same rate as higher value. It keeps the mill rate taxes lower and in a community like Kimberley it’s important,” he said. “We have to keep tax rates attractive for resident attraction. We are in competition with other communities on these lifestyle immigrants.”
McCormick believes so strongly that this is not the right move that he will bring the matter back to Council at the next regular meeting and ask them to reconsider. He says he spoke to all the Councillors individually and told them he would be doing so.
“Reducing the flat tax has an impact o every tax payer, and a negative impact on more than half of them,” he said. “We didn’t get a staff report or an analysis on it. Personally, I have reservations and I really want due process before we go ahead. At the end of the day, we want to make sure it in the best interest of the community long term.
“We need to understand the consequences of this particular issue. At this point we don’t have a full understanding of what the consequences are.”
McCormick says he has been hearing from people on the flat tax after the meeting last week, and that from a number of them it is more puzzlement than anything. Everyone needs to understand the issue better, he says, and he will be asking Council to reconsider.