The four heavy industries in town will get to make their pitch to City council for a reduction in their tax burden.
But they’ll do it at a public meeting.
Council voted unanimously Tuesday to invite Domtar, Tolko, Arclin and Lafarge to give a presentation on industrial taxation concerns before December.
“If you take the burden off industry, it goes somewhere else,” said Coun. Arjun Singh, who wanted to invite representatives from all the various tax classes to a discussion session on tax allocation.
Mayor Peter Milobar said heavy industry is the only group that has asked for consideration.
The foursome initially made a tax-shift request in spring, but by then council was well into budget deliberations. Despite that, council voted to give them a decrease that totalled $250,000 and cost residents an additional $7.50 per average home.
They are arguing that Kamloops is out of sync with other B.C. communities in the amount of taxation that heavy industry shoulders here.
Coun. Tina Lange said business should show up at the public budget sessions that the City schedules in February and March. She has asked some business owners why they don’t attend and was told they’re tired after working hard all day.
All council members felt the meeting should be done in public. Council’s meetings are broadcast and available on the Internet, so it was agreed to offer a time during a regular session.
Coun. Nancy Bepple pointed out that the number of homes in the residential tax class are rising, as are the number of commercial and light industrial businesses. Those categories can then share their tax requirement among bigger numbers.
But number of heavy industries has not changed for years and is actually having some financial struggles, she said. Domtar, which has the biggest piece of the heavy industry-tax pie, has closed one of its mills and is being reassessed.
In response to Singh’s request to have all tax categories represented at a meeting, Milobar noted residents or other businesses can attend any council meeting and ask questions during public inquiries. They’re also free to attend the winter budget meetings.
Singh said he was concerned if the tax shift happens, some of those in the other tax categories might not understand council’s reasoning or industry’s viewpoint.