North Cowichan council shifts taxes to business

Passionate pleading by business backers didn’t budge the majority of North Cowichan council from the choice they made last week: to give homeowners a tax break in 2015, shifting more of a planned tax increase onto business and industrial.

Councillors Al Siebring, Tom Walker, Joyce Behnsen and Rob Douglas persisted in approving that option with Mayor Jon Lefebure and Councillors Kate Marsh and Maeve Maguire wishing to see every class getting a 3.22 per cent increase.

Marsh, in her final argument, pointed out that North Cowichan’s staff had come to council with a budget proposal that saw every class looking at an increase of only 2.89 per cent.

"We chose to move it up to 3.22 per cent. We don’t want to hide that we did this," she reminded her colleagues.

Siebring, although on the other side of the vote, agreed.

"I don’t like the way this budget was increased. Coun. Marsh is right. We all have to wear this," he said, explaining that he thought a three per cent ceiling was an important

psychological threshold for the residential class and that if the municipality had been able to keep the evenly-distributed rate at under that level, he would have been able to consider supporting it.

Mayor Jon Lefebure noted in

his comments that one thing council must remember as it looks at future budgeting is that it is the residential sector that is growing and that any more attempts to shift the tax burden away from homeowners would see diminishing returns.