By David F. Rooney
Taxes. Like death there’s no getting away from them. Every year some ticked-off local rate-payers complain that we pay too much and every year City Council says “no, it ain’t so.”
This year’s report, presented to Council on Tuesday by Finance Director Graham Inglis, is pretty typical.
Inflis assembled a number of different documents that show how our local taxes fare when stacked up against those of other cities. One document shows that Revelstoke’s residential tax rate ranked 86th on a list of 161 BC municipalities. Last year it was 93rd.
Another showed that Revelstoke’s business tax rate ranked 18th (same as last year) out of a list of 161 municipalities. When you compare tax rates for major industry we ranked 53rd (46th last year) out of of 74 municipalities with major industry.
How about if you compare them based on house values? We’re 74th out 161 — down from 65th last year. And so on…
“I find it somewhat useful,” said Councillor Chris Johnston. “But comparing us to Cranbrook? I don’t know how useful that is.”
Finance Committee Chairman Steve Bender said it all depends on what criteria you’re using.
“What heavy industry do they have?” he asked. “What services do they provide? There are so many variables..”
Councillor Tony Scarcella, who rarely passes up an opportunity to wild his verbal scalpel when it comes to local taxation, said “we need to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.”
Councillor Gary Starling said it seemed to him that “you have to take it with a drain of salt.”
“You have to look at the whole package to figure out where we are,” he noted.
Mayor David Raven said it’s difficult to find a comparison that makes sense because as soon as you start listing the criteria whereby you’re planning to make that comparison “you’re introducing a bias.”
“Everyone can come up with 10 communities they could compare us to,” he said.
No matter where you stand on taxation, this is one issue that will never go away.