Regional suppliers of heavy industry in Kamloops are telling the City that a fairer and more competitive industrial tax is critical to the future of their operations.
The companies - suppliers to Domtar's operations - have made written submissions in support of a heavy-industry lobby to reduce their tax load.
Tolko, Domtar, Lafarge and Arclin representatives are expected to appear before council at Tuesday's regular meeting to lobby for a further reduction in taxes. Gilbert Smith Forest Products in Barriere, Interfor's Adams Lake sawmill and River City Fibre, located on Mission Flats, wrote to council, backing the request.
"The viability of Domtar's operations in Kamloops is absolutely critical to the viability of our operations in Barriere," wrote Greg Smith, vice-president and chief operating officer of Gilbert Smith. Closure of Domtar's sawdust line earlier this year has hurt the mill's operations, he noted.
Rick Robertson, Interfor mill manager, wrote that Domtar, as the only pulp mill in the region, is key to many business operations.
"It's critical to River City that Domtar survives these difficult economic times," wrote Cliff Ramsay, company manager.
The lobby will ring familiar with City ratepayers.
In April, council voted to shift a part of the heavy-industry tax burden onto residents. That cost the owner of an average assessed home ($348,000) an additional $7.50 this year and pushed this year's tax increase from 3.55 to 3.95 per cent.
The reduction brought the heavy industry class tax total to $6.9 million from $7.4 million, but it represented only half of the tax cut it requested.
Before the reduction, Domtar was slated to pay $6.1 million of the $7.4-million bill. Lafarge's charge was $600,000, Tolko's was $556,000 and Arclin's $122,000.
Councillors have expressed mixed opinions on whether there should be additional shifts in the tax burden, but most believe they should hear the group's concerns.
Businesses in general seem to have mixed views as well.
In a Venture Kamloops business survey released on Friday, 30 per cent of 70 city businesses surveyed indicated dissatisfaction with industrial tax rates, while an equal number said they were satisfied with the status quo.
Nonetheless, the City's economic development office concluded that Kamloops ratepayers are generally not happy with the industrial tax rate. Venture Kamloops recommends that the City compare its tax structure to other municipalities in the province.
A series of public consultations on the City's 2014 budget is set to take place in late October and early November.