Vernon to reconsider residential tax hike - InfoNews

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Vernon to reconsider residential tax hike

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming is bringing the budget back to the table for more discussion and another vote.
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April 18, 2019 - 6:00 PM

VERNON - It appears a proposed residential tax hike didn't sit too well with residents, as Vernon City council is going back to the table to reconsider its 7.1 per cent tax hike for residents.

Council had voted for the residential tax increase at its April 8 meeting, but in an unusual move the item has been put back on the table to be debated and voted on again April 25.

City of Vernon councillor Brian Quiring said the mayor wanted the tax rate options put back on the agenda as not enough debate occurred the first time around. Coun. Quiring said the debate was relatively short as it item came at the end of a very long meeting and councillors were tired.

City staff initially recommended council raise businesses taxes 8.74 per cent and residential by 4.24 per cent. Instead, council chose to increase the business tax by 2.98 per cent and residential taxes by 7.1 per cent.

During council's April 8 meeting, Mayor Victor Cumming said he a "difficulty" with the 7.1 per cent tax rise and favoured the 5.35 per cent increase option put forward by city staff, but Mayor Cumming didn't get support from council.

While council chose the highest residential tax rate presented, Vernon councillor Kari Gares said she had not received any negative responses about it.

Gares said that while residential tax was increasing, the tax burden placed on residents was far less than the tax burden placed on commercial businesses. The tax rate for commercial businesses is roughly three times that of residential.

Quiring said there was a significant amount of empty commercial buildings in Vernon and he didn't want to make matters worse by increasing commercial taxes. Staff's recommendation would have cost an average business $847 more, whereas the option chosen by council will cost them $288.

"A lot of the small businesses and mid-sized businesses are really struggling," Gares said. "We're just trying to give a little bit of a break to the businesses moving forward."

Both councillors welcomed more debate on the issue and were happy to have further discussion.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming did not return our call by deadline.

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