Mayor Don McCormick has every right to bring the flat tax issue back to Council next week, says Coun. Kent Goodwin — as mayor that’s his prerogative — but he’s not sure anything will change.
Goodwin led the charge on reducing the flat tax by $80 this year, and a further $80 for the next ten years until it’s been eliminated. That vote passed Council last week with Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Darryl Oakley and Bev Middlebrook voting for it.
Mayor Don McCormick is against the move, fearing it will lead less people to want to build in Kimberley, and he has indicated he’s bringing the issue back to ask Council to reconsider.
Goodwin says he has good reason to want the flat tax eliminated, mainly because owners of lower income properties are paying an unfair proportion of taxes.
“Since the early 1990s, we’ve been taxing lower value properties more and giving high value properties a break,” he said. “The province never intended for the flat tax to be a major part of taxation.
“I think it’s time to get back to normal, to where 158 other communities in B.C. are. It seems to me the millrate is fairer.”
The other B.C. communities with a flat tax are Kitimat, Trail, Dawson Creek and Powell River. Goodwin says Powell is the process of getting rid of their flat tax.
“Ours is the largest at $786. We also have the $152 aquatic centre parcel tax and $800 or so in utility rates that are the same for every property.”
He believes that knocking off $80 per year on the flat tax and adjusting the millrate accordingly is not going to prove too onerous to those with higher value properties, and doing it over time lessens the impact.
“Any unanticipated concerns should become apparent as we go along and we can have another look,” Goodwin said.
“The main concern is that homes with above average value will see their millrate tax go higher. If you own an average home, there is no change and if you home is of lower value, you benefit.
“I just have a hard time believing that it will cause people building higher value homes not to build here.
“I don’t think we should penalize lower value homes. We need to get more business and spread out taxes that way. The mayor has got a great initiative going with Cranbrook.
“I’m open to discussion and new ideas but I see no reason not to continue with reducing the flat tax. People have just seen fairly large utility increases. This would give them a break.”