Spallumcheen reviews farm taxes

Township considers lowering 2015 farm tax rate (class nine)

A contentious tax policy could be changed in Spallumcheen.

Council will consider lowering the 2015 farm tax rate to the amount affected by the impact of Bill 8 based on discussions with the provincial government.

“We’ve been working on this the whole time,” said Coun. Christine Fraser of concerns that agricultural taxes had skyrocketed.

The township raised the class nine tax rate by more than double in 2014 to 11.179 from 5.1531 to counteract the effects of the provincial government’s Bill 8 which provided farmers with $120,000 of tax relief in 2013.

Prior to Bill 8, if a resident had farm and out buildings in the operation of class nine land, farmers were given an assessment exemption to a maximum of $50,000.

Bill 8 removed the flat rate of $50,000, going instead to a rate that was either going to be the greater number of up to $50,000 or 87.5 per cent of the exemption.

The provincial decision cost Spallumcheen about $120,000 in farm tax revenue.

“It impacted our community so much more than anyone else,” said Fraser of the fact that Spallumcheen has large tracts of farm land and no commercial area for a tax base.

As a result of the lost revenue, taxes for class nine properties were increased.

“We don’t know how to recover this kind of money,” said Coun. Todd York.

Township officials confronted Community Services Minister Coralee Oakes with the implications of Bill 8 at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.

“We’re very confident that now that they’re aware of what they did to us, and only us, they will rectify the situation,” said York.

 

Vernon Morning Star