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Coldstream councillor provides his views on the agricultural tax

I am writing to add some information provided in Mr. Rolke’s Morning Star article Feb. 24, “Coldstream reduces agricultural burden.”

First, the tax burden of each average house in Coldstream will go up by one per cent once the change is implemented over the next three years. That equates to $10 annually for the average house of $492,000 by the end of the three years.

Second, the shift on an annual basis to residential properties from all agricultural property is $15, 300 in the first year but raises to $44,000 in the third year.

Coldstream Ranch owns about 36 per cent of all land in Coldstream.

With the proposed change, the ranch will pay only $18,129 for all class nine agricultural land in Coldstream by the end of the three-year term.

Third, three councillors were opposed (not two) to the change in the tax multiplier, including Doug Dirk. The majority of council also voted unanimously to come back and revisit the issue next year based on the concerns raised.

What is our justification for shifting the tax burden to the residential side of the tax balance?

Some say other jurisdictions have lower tax multipliers and we should be competitive.

The crux is that the multiplier is a red herring and it is really the mill rate and the actual tax bill that should be considered.

If the ranch was in Spallumcheen, it would pay less land tax, but if the ranch was in Salmon Arm, it would pay more based on the mill rate, and if it was in Summerland, it would pay only a bit less based on the mill rate.

Therefore, it may not be best to look at other jurisdictions for the answer as to what is the right tax.

Some say we should support the agricultural sector. However, there have been no other farmers raising concerns about the tax multiplier because Coldstream already has a favourable tax treatment for the improvements on farms so the tax is not burdensome for most farms. Furthermore, farm properties have their assessments reduced automatically if they are class nine agricultural properties. For example, 22 of the ranch’s 72 titles are assessed at under $5,000 and 11 of those are assessed at under $500.

The question is, what taxes should a member of our community contribute?

Shifting the tax burden to residential lands means the actual tax increase for residential will be hidden in the multipliers in future years and a substantial part of that tax increase benefits one corporation.

Richard J. Enns,

Councillor, District of Coldstream