Quesnel City Council has approved an operating budget that would see the average homeowner pay about 9.5 percent more than what they paid in 2022.
Director of Finance Kari Bolton says major factors affecting the budget include inflation and natural gas prices, but a large portion, 4.2 percent is due to tax shifting.
“So that would be shifting 1 percent of the total taxes from the commercial class to the residential class. That would result in a tax increase to the average resident of $115.50 and it would actually result in a decrease for commercial municipal taxes.”
The commercial tax class includes small business as well as medium and larger businesses such as banks and chain stores.
Councillor Mitch Vik proposed the tax shift, saying that Quesnel ranked 13th out of 161 communities in BC when it comes to municipal taxes for business.
He also talked about the tax multiplier that municipalities use.
“In this case the multiplier is 4.42, that’s Quesnel. That means that a business property will pay 4.42 as much municipal tax as a residential property. There are communities to the north and south of us who’s multipliers are 2.5. So over time we have depended increasingly on our industrial and our commercial ratepayers.”
Councillors Laurey-Anne Roodenburg and Scott Elliott were opposed to the tax shifting.
Elliott noted that the city has done a lot of work in the downtown area, and that burden was put onto residential taxpayers as well.
“As far as redoing Reid Street (6.1 million dollars) which was made to attract more people to the commercial section downtown. We’ve increased, because of some of the asks from business, increased bylaw, we’ve increased the RCMP contingent to the highest it’s ever been and that’s related to the residents as well, they end up picking up a lot of that.”
A 9.5 percent increase would be the largest tax increase in Quesnel in at least a number of years.
Elliott was the only one opposed to the operating budget.
“Mortgages are tough for people because of inflation, they’ve gone up significantly and people are feeling that pinch. For the first time that I have been a Councillor I will not be able to support a budget, even though I am on the Finance Committee. I don’t feel that tax shifting towards residence right now is the right thing to do.”
Vik noted that while he fully appreciates the stress and financial hardships people are facing with inflation, it is also impacting commercial and industrial ratepayers.