Subsidy hurts taxpayers
In the 2015 tax year the special industrial tax rate for Catalyst Paper Corporation is up for renewal [“Budget holds tight line,” May 14]. Such a renewal would be a huge mistake for three reasons.
First, it would continue to deny City of Powell River up to $2.5 million in yearly revenue it needs to make a strong community. Second, it would continue to put an increased tax burden on residents and small businesses who have to make up for the revenue loss. And third, the tax reduction is virtually useless in terms of helping Catalyst survive.
The amount of money sacrificed to this subsidy to Catalyst is enormous for a small city like Powell River. Between 2005 when the subsidized rate was established and 2015 we will have lost over $29,000,000 in revenue. That is the difference between what Catalyst paid in taxes here compared to what Port Alberni collects from its major industry taxpayers (including Catalyst)—despite a lower total assessment for their major industry properties.
The subsidy that every citizen of Powell River pays to Catalyst through this tax break was intended to help Catalyst survive—a noble goal. But it has had absolutely no such impact. Municipal taxes account for a tiny portion of Catalyst`s overall operating costs, just 0.6 of one per cent. To get some perspective on the question, keep in mind that Catalyst lost $138 million in 2013. A tax break of $2.607 million (for 2013) in this context is almost meaningless to Catalyst.
But that money could make a big difference to Powell River.
Of the 71 BC communities with major industry taxation, Powell River has the fifth lowest tax rate. The provincial average is 8.70 while Powell River’s is 2.99.
This situation is unjustified and unsustainable. The subsidy doesn’t help Catalyst yet it has resulted in increased taxes for small and medium businesses. Many of these businesses are struggling and their high property taxes are a fixed cost which they have to pay no matter what their income.
Council will be discussing this issue at its committee of the whole meeting tomorrow. They should end this ill-conceived subsidy as soon as possible.
About this library issue, Resolution 12-190. It seems to me a few people in town want to spend $9 million, $12 million or so when it is finished, if past track record is anything to go by, regardless of what the general public wants [“Discussion over library location raises ire,” May 28].
Just a minute...wasn’t there an article going in this paper telling us the new Powell River Public Library was going to Powell River Recreation Complex for $2.2 million?
The old Brick—to me the Hudson Bay Store—site will cost $4.4 million to buy and renovate to present day standards. The bottom floor is three to four times the size they have now. So, why not just lease the bottom floor, still way cheaper than $9 million for a new one, or does somebody own a construction company?
Something is wrong here, it is brought up every six months to keep us stirred up. Oh, by the way, we have had three or four referendums in Powell River already—Sunday shopping: no; incineration: yes; Crawford Hotel on Willingdon: no—so how do you think this next one will go? Good luck.
Quite simply, you don’t need the best ocean view in Powell River to house, read or check-out books from the public library [“Discussion over library location raises ire,” May 28].
Also, a larger space could be leased as there are lots of vacant sites in town.