THE TERRACE and District Chamber of Commerce lobbied city council again last night, saying business property taxes as proposed for 2012 are too high.
This came on the heels of a presentation by the chamber March 8 at a city budget meeting, when first vice president Gordon Stamp-Vincent asked council to strike a task force to look at taxation and also reduce its budget by $403,729 in order to lower business taxes.
Stamp-Vincent spoke again to council at the city’s 2012 budget public hearing last night, changing the chamber’s request instead to freeze all tax rates at the 2011 level, creating a $200,000 shortfall in the proposed budget.
The chamber pushed again its demand for a task force or advisory panel with business representation to look at Terrace’s tax rate policy.
It has also circulated a petition regarding tax rates.
“Our goal is to see the tax rates at an appropriate level for all tax categories with a strategy in place to guide future budgets,” said Stamp-Vincent.
At last week’s meeting, council members asked Stamp-Vincent how the chamber would cut the city’s budget to meet its tax requests.
“One might be able to defer the airport lands intersection for about one year,” said Stamp-Vincent.
This would result in a savings of $344,000 this year, he explained.
Until 2016, each city dollar spent on developing an intersection leading to what the city envisions will one day be an industrial park will be matched one dollar by both the federal and provincial governments, turning $1 city dollar into three toward the project.
The city has been hard pressed to find its share of the money since 2009 when the matching grant first came available.
The rational behind developing the industrial lands near the airport is to attract industry, thereby expanding Terrace’s tax base.
Other budget reductions made by the chamber last night included not drilling a well at the airport industrial lands that is planned for this year, generating money through tipping fees at the landfill, reducing city expenses to account for one per cent of the total budget, and making a net-zero offer during wage negotiations when municipal employee contracts expire at the end of 2012.
For 2012, two per cent wage increases for all city workers make up $130,000 of the budget, said city finance director Ron Bowles.
Of that amount, $90,000 is for members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, $22,000 is for managers and $18,000 for firefighters who belong to the International Association of Fire Fighters.