FUTURE sales of industrial park land will go toward lowering both business and residential taxes, city council decided Nov. 10 at its fourth budget preparation meeting of the year.
Confident that city land sales will continue (this year saw two memoranda of understanding and one land sale finalized at the Skeena Industrial Development Park), mayor Dave Pernarowski said he wants to use money that comes in from industrial related activity to bring taxes down in the future.
“Over the past 10 or 12 years with forestry collapsing and the industrial tax base disappearing, we’ve put a high reliance on the business and residential tax base,” said Pernarowski.
Terrace depends on its residential and commercial tax base to a greater degree than other municipalities to finance operations.
Pernarowski introduced a policy that, if adopted, would have seen half of the light and heavy industrial tax base used to reduce business and residential tax rates.
But council decided it was too early to put an exact percentage of any planned tax relief, preferring instead to determine the value of any tax relief during budget time starting in 2014, with reductions in tax coming in 2015.
Councillor Stacey Tyers said that “we should lower [taxes] in a balanced way,” and councillor Bruce Bidgood said that at this point he is “reticent to put a value on” what the reduction would be because the policy is based largely on speculation of sales of industrial park lands to developers.
Councillor Brian Downie also brought up the fact that surplus from industrial land sales would need to go towards upgrade to infrastructure and facilities.
Councillor Marylin Davies said there will have to be a yearly review to determine what the numbers are.
Also discussed was the potential for Terrace to receive federal grant money through the Build Canada Fund which allots $47 billion over 10 years for municipal projects.
Council is still debating over whether money should be moved into currently unbudgeted projects such has preparing designs for a downtown museum and second overpass in advance of applying elsewhere for construction money.
City staff has already labeled some projects “shelf-ready” including pool renewal, road work, and Co-op land reclamation.