In what’s becoming a budget-time tradition, heavy industries in Kamloops are once again urging city hall to bring down their tax rate.
A letter headed to council on Tuesday from Domtar, Tolko Industries and Lafarge is calling on the city to “adopt a medium- to long-term industrial tax strategy that results in the Kamloops industrial class paying a competitive level of property tax relative to other B.C. municipalities.”
The three companies (as well as Arclin, which has since closed for non-tax reasons), have been sending similar letters for the past several years.
In a chart they have created, the companies note they pay just under $79 in property taxes per $1,000 of assessed value, while competitors in Prince George would pay $48 and those in Nanaimo about $15.
Kamloops council opted to shifted a portion of heavy industry’s tax rate to residents in 2013 and froze heavy industry’s tax rate in 2014 at 2013 levels — it otherwise would have climbed over $80. In the years since, it had hoped to annex New Afton Mine, which it calculated would bring down the industrial rate to around $50.
The Tk’emlups and Skeetchestn First Nations objected to the move and the city is now in talks with New Afton parent company New Gold about a revenue-sharing agreement. It’s not clear when, if ever, money from the mine would start flowing to the city.
The companies say a lower tax rate is essential to remain competitive and keep their operations running in the city.
“We recognize that this challenge is not unique to Kamloops and that Kamloops’ peer municipalities in B.C. have faced similar challenges and have developed effective strategies to address them,” their letter states.