Council challenges decision

Spallumcheen council believes the province is wrong over the farm improvement exemption on taxes.

Spallumcheen council believes the province’s numbers are wrong as they deny the township’s request to reduce the farm improvement exemption on taxes.

The township received a letter in November from Coralee Oakes, minister of community development, who stated she could not act on the township’s request to reduce the exemption to the greater of 44 per cent or $50,000.

“I understand the concerns you’ve raised about tax revenue challenges now facing Spallumcheen as a result of increased exemptions for farm improvements enacted by Bill 8 in 2012,” wrote Oakes.

Such a move increased the tax exemption for farm improvements to the greater of 87 per cent or $50,000.

Oakes said increasing the exemption within municipal boundaries “better aligned it with the 100 per cent exemption to farm improvements provided to farmers in rural/non-incorporated areas.”

Spall council, in 2013, increased both Class 1 (residential) and Class 9 (farm) rates to offset the revenue lost from the exemption increase.

Oakes said her staff indicated that Class 1 total assessments, including farm improvements, increased overall by about eight per cent.

“This further contributed to higher revenues from that property class and more than fully compensated for the lost revenue due to the increased exemption,” she wrote.

Oakes said revenues increased in the township by about $600,000 against a reduction of about $200,000 — due to the exemption increase.

Coun. Todd York wanted an internal discussion on the matter, but not before saying the province’s numbers are wrong.

“I’m so disappointed with this,” said York.

“This information isn’t true. Let’s not give up the fight on this.”

Council directed chief financial officer Brian Freeman-Marsh to investigate the numbers and report back for a budget planning meeting Jan. 19.