North Cowichan councillor Rob Douglas advocated for tax cuts for homeowners in 2018 at the council meeting on April 4. (File photo)

Increase in residential taxes in North Cowichan spurs fierce council debate

But taxes on light industry to be reduced by 2.5 per cent

Home owners in North Cowichan will see a slight bump in the municipality’s projected property tax increase for 2018.

Council decided at a meeting in April to further reduce the taxes on light industry in the municipality by 2.5 per cent in 2018 and distribute the balance of the levy across the remaining property classes.

The overall tax increase in North Cowichan in 2018 was set at 2.61 per cent in February, which means that an average single-family dwelling in the municipality would have seen a tax increase of $37.35.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN SETS TAX INCREASE

But with the decision to decrease the tax on light industry, the average house will now see a further increase of approximately $1.35.

North Cowichan has been reducing its light industrial tax rates for a number of years to make them more competitive with other jurisdictions in the province.

But the decision to do it again this year led to a lengthy debate at the council table on April 4.

Coun. Rob Douglas said the municipality has “come a long way” in its efforts to make taxes on light industry more competitive and has largely achieved that task.

“We’ve done our part and now it’s time that we helped the average homeowner in North Cowichan who have taken on much of the tax burden in recent years,” Douglas said.

“I’d like to see a modest decrease in residential taxes in 2018 and distribute the balance across the rest of the tax classes.”

Coun. Joyce Behnsen said that in some cases, the property taxes for some residents in 2018 are surpassing the cost of living index.

“It behooves us to look at residential taxes and I’d like to see an effort by us to not increase residential taxes but bring them down instead,” she said.

Coun. Al Siebring said council made the decision years ago to make its taxes on light industry more competitive and this year’s decrease in those taxes is the “final step” in achieving that.

“But this is an election year and some of us want to give the homeowners a break because there’s more of them [who vote],” he said.

“Let’s stick to what our plan was.”

Douglas said he’s sick of people claiming he wants to give homeowners a tax break because it’s an election year.

“I’ve been raising these concerns for years so it’s not a new thing,” he said.

“Business decisions are not based solely on tax rates; there are other factors that are considered as well. Our homeowners deserve a tax break.”

The motion to decrease the taxes on light industry was passed with Douglas and Behnsen opposed.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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