Council offload taxes from industry to homeowners

Staying competitive in Kamloops is getting progressively harder Domtar officials say.

Kamloops homeowners will have to dig deeper for city taxes this year to pay for a drop in taxes for some of the area's biggest businesses.

In early March, four heavy industry players – Domtar, Lafarge, Tolko and Arclin – asked for a decrease in city taxes. After three hours of back and forth discussion and confusion at its final budget meeting today, council bumped up the residential mill rate so an average property would pay an extra $7.50 per year for a property valued at $341,000. The change saves heavy industry just over $228,000 per year. And that's only half what the industry requested.

Bill Adams, a Domtar manager, said he was encouraged by council's willingness to make reductions but Kamloops is still well above some other communities and the provincial average.

Domtar contributes about $6 million to the Kamloops tax base, Adams said, which is about double any other community and about 2.5 times more than in Prince George. While the company likes to be part of the growth of Kamloops, he said, every time the city grows so does the tax base they are required to contribute to.

He said they are just looking for a fair rate.

“We recognize it can't be done overnight,” Adams said. “But we are encouraged by council planning for next year. We're glad to see it back on the table.”

Councillors Pat Wallace and Ken Christian were both looking for council to look at the issue next year instead of this year and voted against the motion.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call (250) 819-3723.

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