Residential taxpayers could be asked to swallow a 7% tax increase as part of this year’s city budget. This follows a Mar. 21 budget committee meeting where Revelstoke’s council voted in favour of increasing residential taxes for 2017, while decreasing the percentage businesses will have to pay.
Originally the committee had been considering a 5% increase across the board; however, some council members felt businesses could be left with a sour taste it their taxes were increased that much.
“Business taxes in this community are high,” said Councillor Scott Duke, who made the motion change the tax increase to 7% for residential and 4% for businesses.
During discussions, chief administrative officer Allan Chabot said that while businesses may not be happy, he hoped a potential upswing in business brought on by an increase in tourism could make the potential tax increase a bit easier to take.
Councillor Aaron Orlando, who voted against the motion, said he felt is important to consider the impact a tax increase could have on businesses who are not impacted by the tourism sector.
“When it comes down to the final decision, we do need to move in the general direction of alleviating [business] taxes. It’s fine for businesses who benefit from the tourism trade, but what about businesses that aren’t in the tourism trade? This is a significant increase for them.”
Mayor Mark McKee said he felt the proposed increase was too big of a spread, voting against the 7% increase for residential taxpayers. During discussion, he favoured a 6% to 4% split between residential and business taxes respectively.
“In my opinion we should be asking for money we are spending. I think if we’re throwing it into roads that’s fine. Myself, I don’t think there’s an appetite out there to go that much,” said McKee
Council discussed how to present the proposed tax increase to the public. Councillor Connie Brothers said she felt the increase should be explained as dollar value, as opposed to a percentage.
“When we talk about this is what’s going to cost you on a $200,000 home, it doesn’t seem as much,” she said. “We’re talking $70 on a $200,000 home to make our community better.”
Councillor English agreed, however, he said a more realistic number needs to be used.
“We can’t go out to the public saying the average house is $270,000. We need to use a realistic number,” he said. “We’re going to get hammered on the increase, I want to operate in reality.”
The March 21 budget discussions were held at the committee level. The proposed budget will now proceed to council’s Mar. 28 regular meeting, where council will likely approve the proposed financial plan. The document will then proceed to public input.
For more, see this budget explainer document presented at the Mar. 21 committee meeting. Some of the numbers will need some updating following changes made to the budget at the Mar. 21 council meeting, but most remain the same.