Port Alberni city council would like to see less reliance on heavy industrial taxation in the 2017-2021 Five-Year Financial Plan.
Council gave City of Port Alberni CAO, Tim Pley, direction to go ahead with a draft financial plan that includes looking at city service cuts in addition to limited dependence on industrial taxes.
“We need to develop a draft plan and that enables council to have something to work off of,” Pley said at a Nov. 14 council meeting. “If council gives us high level, broad financial direction that we need, then we will go away and we will develop a draft budget.”
Pley asked council where they want to be in five years financially and to focus on the long-term goal rather than year to year.
Residential taxation has grown to be the largest portion of the city’s tax revenue, Pley said.
Twenty-three per cent of the city’s taxation revenue comes from heavy industry.
“Heavy industry taxation is frozen for 2017, that was part of the deal when we purchased the sewage lagoons,” Pley said. “After 2017 council can make changes to that; you can choose to refreeze it or you can decrease it.”
Coun. Sharie Minions said industrial taxes need to be addressed.
“We need to reduce our reliance on industry,” Minions said.
“We need to get to a point where we don’t need them. It’s fantastic that we have them, but so we’re not reliant on them,” Minions said.
Core city services were also discussed amongst council and what service could be cut in order to try and balance the city’s tax level.
“I think that a lot of the services that we provide are services that people need and that people are going to pay for at the end of the day regardless,” Minions said. “What I don’t want to see us do is cut our services because it gives the illusion that we’re cutting people’s cost.”
Pley was sent to the drawing board to create a draft financial plan that he hopes to have finished by mid-December for a roundtable discussion with city staff and council for discussion and modification.
“You haven’t given me a clear picture on taxation equity, but you’ve made a lot of comments on what we should do with industrial tax dollars,” Pley said.