Tax discussion must focus on sustainability

Is the message being sent worth the token amount of savings?

The tough decisions just keep on coming for municipal councils debating and voting on their budgets for the year.

Last week, North Cowichan council broke a previous deadlock and decided to allocate more of a tax increase to business and industrial than to residential taxpayers.

It was a 4-3 decision. Those who opposed the move wanted to split the tax increase equally among the tax classes.

Doing it that way would have meant about $3 more increase for residential taxpayers.

For such a small amount of savings, hitting the business community instead seems unwise.

Make no mistake, we see no problem with charging the big guys who can afford it rather than the individual property owner who may just be making ends meet.

The problem is that the tax classes don’t separate out the big guys who can afford it from the small business owners who are counting every penny just as carefully as a senior homeowner on a fixed income.

For these folks, even small increases can indeed be make-or-break.

These are the engines of our local economy. These are the business owners who live here in our Valley, who buy things from other local businesses and who employ local people.

These are the folks whose roots are right here – they won’t be looking to move their operation to Mexico for cheaper labour and fewer standards.

We want there to be more of them. Will this help?

We believe that councillors made their decisions conscientiously.

But there needs to be some serious discussion, once this budget cycle is done, about the direction this decision is pointing council in and whether it is indeed a road that council wishes to proceed down in the years to come.

It’s high time for a serious discussion about continuing tax increases in general.

As a community, it is folly to count on constant growth to fund ourselves. Incomes are not growing. We must look to sustainability.

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