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Courtenay still pushing for new tax classification

The City of Courtenay took another step in its push for an additional commercial property assessment class this week.

Council voted unanimously to submit a resolution on the topic to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) and the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) for consideration.

If members approve the resolution, it would be sent to the Ministry of Community Sport and Culture so the ministry can "examine the possibility that an additional property assessment class be added to capture the concept of commercial entity size as a property class for the purposes of property taxation."

An additional commercial property assessment class would give council more freedom when establishing property tax multipliers, according to a report from Tillie Manthey, Courtenay director of financial services and deputy CAO.

Currently, there is one property tax multiplier that applies to all commercial properties in Courtenay. Council lowered the property tax multiplier from 2.9 times the residential rate to 2.85 times the residential rate last spring, and has been lowering it for a number of years in an effort to help business.

However, each decrease of the multiplier has meant an increase in residential tax rates to achieve the same amount of tax revenue for the City.

But, Jangula stressed, any changes to commercial property tax assessment classes would not affect residential taxpayers. Jangula would like to offset a lower multiplier rate for small businesses by raising the rate for big business.

"Remember, the whole idea behind this is we're not looking at shifting any tax money from the businesses onto the homeowners," Jangula said during Monday's council meeting. "We're looking at basically collecting the same amount of money from businesses but in different increments."

Coun. Manno Theos noted Courtenay council is always "looking at ways of trying to keep our small businesses vibrant."

He also pointed out that even if commercial properties housing larger businesses in the Valley end up with a higher rate than properties housing smaller businesses, the change may be good for larger businesses, too.

"An overall vibrant business community, I think, is better for everybody within the community," he said.

The AVICC annual general meeting is scheduled in April, and if the resolution is passed there, it is automatically forwarded to the UBCM for consideration during its annual convention in September.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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