If Gerald Clancy, owner of Valid Manufacturing, was going to choose a home for his company today, he wouldn’t choose Salmon Arm.
Clancy brought that message to the Dec. 5 meeting of the city’s planning meeting as part of his request to city council to make tax rates more equitable.
“We all think this is a great place to live. We want to convince other people it’s a great place to live,” he says, but emphasized people consider tax rates when they consider setting up shop.
“If I was going to start a business, I would not go here. I’m homegrown… I would say, where is the volume of people? If I was starting this business again, I would go to Spallumcheen, a small area, close to larger centres, with reasonably priced housing. These are the things we as a community have to recognize to strengthen our case.”
More specifically, Clancy said the difference between the tax rate for Class 5 (light industry) and Class 6 (business and other) creates an inequity between local businesses. He would like to see the tax rate in Salmon Arm more level.
In Spallumcheen, for example, the municipal tax rate for Class 5 and Class 6 categories is nearly identical.
The BC Assessment Authority classifies businesses by use. Class 5, light industry, refers to property used or held for extracting, processing, manufacturing or transporting products. Class 6 is property used for offices, retail, warehousing, hotels and motels. This class also includes properties that do not fall into other classes.
Clancy said the classification is not cut and dried for most people in the industrial park.
“You can have a multi-tenant building; one tenant is light industry, the next is business.” Valid’s controller Terry Smuin suggested that to even out the rates, the Class 6 – business rate would have to increase by 2.6 per cent or an approximate increase of $272 per property. Class 5 – light industry would see an average tax reduction of $3,999.
Coun. Chad Eliason pointed out that this comes down to a political decision.
“Being asked, do we shift the mill rate away from light industry and switch to business? The push from the province in the past was to switch from heavy industry to light industry… I don’t know if I’m ready to make a change. We get to balance out with the rest of the classifications. We get pulled from all sides on that. I think if we look at one, we need to look at them all.”
Coun. Alan Harrison said it’s important to look at the goal, “if the goal is to attract light industry to Salmon Arm.”
Harrison said he’d support an input meeting suggested by Coun. Tim Lavery, where more tax classifications are represented.
“I’m willing to look at shifting it,” he said.