Close taxation gap, says Port Coquitlam Mayor
Businesses pay a disproportionate amount of property tax in Port Coquitlam and the city needs to consider shifting more of the tax burden to homeowners.
That was the message from PoCo Mayor Greg Moore during Monday night's special council meeting, when council gave first three readings to the bylaw setting property tax rates for 2012.
Moore said that now that the city's budget has been finalized, it is time to discuss the imbalance between residential and business taxes.
"Lets take a deeper look and make sure we are not driving businesses out of our community," he told The Tri-City News. "We don't want to lose any businesses and employers due to property tax."
Currently, the ratio between business and residents is approximately 3.5 to 1, depending on the property class; light industrial land owners pay 3.63 times the rate residential property owners do while business property owners pay 3.32 times the residential rate.
But a tax shift would not happen over night, the mayor said, noting it has taken years for the 3.5:1 ratio to take shape and closing the gap between commercial and residential rates would be a gradual process.
Shifting the tax burden from businesses and industry to residential properties would also have consequences, according to Coun. Darrell Penner.
"You have to realize that if it is status quo as far as services go and we do a tax shift, it is going to cost more for residences," he said. "That is the difficulty that we are up against."
Despite the property tax gap, Port Coquitlam is still competitive in the Lower Mainland when it comes to business and industrial tax rates.
In New Westminster and the district of North Vancouver, light industrial land owners pay seven to eight times the rates of homeowners. On the lower end of the scale, Langley and Surrey charge 2.5 to 2.8 times residential properties.
Port Coquitlam is not the first community in Metro Vancouver to consider a tax shift. This year, the city of Coquitlam shifted 1% of the tax burden from commercial and industrial properties to residential, an initiative that has also been undertaken in Vancouver.