Four heavy industries made their pitch to City council Tuesday to get their municipal taxes cut in half.
But doing so could mean a seven-per-cent tax hike for residents, which would amount to $120 on an average, $348,000 home.
While councillors listened, in the end they decided not to take any action until they are juggling all the other financial information they’ll be considering in this year’s budget deliberations.
Domtar manager Carol Lapointe gave the presentation on behalf of his company as well as Tolko, Lafarge and Arclin.
Kamloops is charging heavy industry $79 per $1,000 of assessed value, while the provincial average is half that, he said. In fact, Kamloops was second-highest in the province.
“We're doing business in B.C. and we want to be competitive here,” Lapointe said, adding the tax break is needed soon, within the next couple of years.
The four companies together provide 690 direct jobs and another 1,725 spin-off jobs related to their operations.
To compete against companies in cities with lower tax rates, they need the City to bring down its heavy-industry taxes, he said.
"We need a meaningful step to rebalance the industrial taxes. This will help us to be competitive and remain competitive,” he said.
Coun. Ken Christian wanted something in return for a tax reduction: a guarantee of jobs in the future.
“I get that we need to look at it and that you've brought to our attention that Kamloops is a bit out of synch, but then would we get a guarantee from Domtar that you would remain in Kamloops?” he said.
Lapointe said the mill has operated for more than 40 years. There are other variables, such as the price of pulp, that affect the operation.
However, he added, the more competitive Domtar can be, the better the future will be.
Council agreed to refer the request to its public budget discussions. But Coun. Nancy Bepple also moved to have staff produce a spread sheet with various options of tax redistribution. Her motion was defeated.
Six months ago, council did vote to reduce heavy industry taxes by $220,000, which amounted to about $7 per household.
But cutting it in half would cost each homeowner about $120 and a seven-per-cent tax hike, said City finance director Sally Edwards.
The total heavy industry tax bill would be cut by $3.5 million.
Christian felt council would have to look at cutting services, not just charging other taxpayers more.
"If we lose $3 million in revenue, what would we not do? That's a valid scenario to be weighed out."