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Mayor’s Report – August 26, 2015

Meet the Mayor

August 26, 2015

You might be forgiven for thinking that with the Medical Clinic and Wellness Centre now serving the public need, and with the new city hall coming together, and with the funding in place for the renewal of the sewer treatment plant, that there cannot be much left to occupy our minds.

Well, it is summer and we all like to kick back a little during the dog days and feel the sun because there are at least six months when, if we feel the sun very much, it will be felt somewhere south of 49.

As it happens, there are two outstanding issues that Council and Administration are continuing to pursue. They have to do with taxation, a subject dear to the hearts of all of us – though all of us would be quite happy not to be taxed. Having said that, I don’t know how we could sustain the comforts of our present society without taxation. The challenge is to strike the right balance between ability to pay and the amenities we can live without.

The outstanding issues, if corrected, will make our collective tax burden easier to bear. So please bear with me as I endeavour to explain them again.

In the mid nineties a number of boundary expansions, small islands of industry, were created to capture the industrial tax base of major industries located near to Chetwynd and dependent on Chetwynd for services and a stable workforce. These included the Pine River Gas Plant, Chetwynd Forest Industries, the present Chetwynd Mechanical Pulp, Enersul, and the industry on which we are now focused, Willow Creek Mine.

When Willow Creek was brought into District boundaries, the main source of taxation revenue, the processing and load-out facility, was inadvertently left outside. Administration discovered this oversight several years ago and Chetwynd has been pursuing it with the Ministry of Mines and the Ministry of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development ever since. The time has not been right for the Ministries.

For several reasons, we think that the time is now right and the pursuit has been taken up again.

The second issue has to do with tax structure. In simplified terms, these five industries have an 18-dollar-per-thousand limit on the tax rate which is tied to the residential tax rate in a 3-1 ratio. This means that if Council wanted to lift the tax rate charged to these industries, your residential tax rate would go up well beyond present rates.

Making the problem even more complex is the legislated depreciation rate of 4% for these industries. It can be readily seen that as depreciation wreaks its havoc on the taxable value, the real dollars collected decrease, deflecting the burden to residential and business classes.

Chetwynd is once again making its appeal to the Ministries involved to make the necessary adjustments to the Letters Patent to permit, not an unfettered taxation attack on industry, but a recognition and removal of the inequity of the present situation.

 

Merlin Nichols, Mayor