North Cowichan talks tax shift
Debate on an already controversial subject could get heated at North Cowichan Municipal Hall during a public budget meeting Monday night where council is set to discuss shifting the tax burden from heavy industrial to residential properties.
Homeowners could be facing an increase of $350 more a year in an attempt to ease the burden from North Cowichan's biggest tax payer, struggling Catalyst Paper. But Mayor Jon Lefebure said other options are on the table, including a $200 a year increase.
“We hope that council will make a decision to include a tax shift of some sort in the financial plan that’s being drafted up.”
The mayor explained that any rate decided at Monday’s meeting is contingent on final approval of the district's budget.
“It won’t be the final kick at the can, but it will be a very strong indication of where we’re going.”
Such a steep tax jump is not likely to pass without discord from North Cowichan homeowners. Myrna Borleske lives on Woodland Place and said the hike would force some residents to reconsider where they live.
“If you can’t afford to pay the taxes on your house, obviously you have to move. You move into a smaller house, you move to a different community,” she said. “If you’re going to raise taxes here, (by) $400 on average per house per year, for some people, that’s just impossible.”
Homeowners in North Cowichan currently pay $2.85 per $1,000 of assessed value, some of the lowest rates in the province. Council has already approved a 3.8 per cent increase for this year to keep up with inflation and invest in capital projects.
The tax shift from heavy industry to residential is being driven mainly by the uncertain future of North Cowichan's biggest tax payer, the Crofton Pulp and Paper Mill, whose owner, Catalyst Paper, is temporarily protected from its creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).
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