Revelstoke council adjusted its tax hike on residential property owners downwards to six per cent from seven per cent at its meeting last week.
Council voted at its final budget meeting on Mar. 21 to raise taxes on residential properties by seven per cent, and to raise taxes on business properties by four per cent.
Last Tuesday, Mar. 28, the budget came to an official council meeting for the first time. They were expected to give it first and second reading and put it out for the official comment period but instead, councillor Linda Nixon, who wasn’t at the Mar. 21 meeting, led a push to reduce the tax increase on residents to only five per cent.
“We don’t give businesses a break on taxes by adding more to the residents and I think we can look at it in a different way,” she said. “I have a really hard time saying to the community that because we’re trying to fix the business-residential ratio, we’re going to say to the business community you pay four per cent, and the residential community pays seven per cent.”
The effect of the change would have seen the city’s forecast surplus shrink to only $55,000 in 2017 and lead to losses in the future.
Mayor Mark McKee sided with Nixon, but couns. Connie Brothers and Scott Duke argued it was more prudent to stick with the original proposal.
“We need, for the long term of our community, to pay for our expenses,” said Brothers. “We have a lot of things to pay for and until we can get things going and we can get the development we’re starting to see, which will give rise to a tax base that will help us out, we need to do this as far as I’m concerned.”
Duke said the tax rate should be higher so the city could build up its reserves. “I don’t think it’s too much to swallow. I think we need to protect our community, we need to be investing in our community,” he said. “The fact we’re talking $10 a month for the average person is going to be too much for them to invest in their community, I don’t think so. I think people will say they want to support our community, they want to invest in it as individuals, and $10 a month is OK with me.”
It took council two votes to settle on a six per cent tax increase on residential property owners. First, Nixon moved for five and four per cent increases respectively, but that proposal was defeated.
Coun. Aaron Orlando then moved for the six and four per cent increases. It was approved, with Brothers and Duke in opposition.
“With this asset management review and report that’s coming out, there will likely be a lot of more costs that we require and I think it would be easier for the public to deal with if we were a little bit closer to what we originally tabled,” said Orlando.
“It’s still a little bit high for my real liking but for the sake of moving on I can live with this,” said McKee.