LETTER: Not all councillors on board with the new tax exemption bylaw
Once again council has given the proverbial finger to the taxpayers of Rossland. This time, council has adopted a Revitalization Tax Exemption (RTE) Bylaw that gives another financial break to developers in the resort areas of the City.
Advocates of development at any cost have repeatedly pointed to all the taxes that development in the resort areas will pay that would reduce the tax burden on property owners in Rossland. That’s the argument that was used to try to get citizens to support unrestricted development. Unfortunately, it’s been a cruel hoax. A comparison of the incremental revenues from the taxes and fees that resort development provides and the extra operating, manpower, capital, and other costs that the City incurs because of that development shows Rossland taxpayers have heavily subsidized such development up to this point. Now, City staff estimates that the RTE provided to one developer for a single project at Red Mountain will mean over $150,000 in taxes will be lost to the City. The result – homeowners will continue to subsidize development for up to another ten years at least. And any further commercial, industrial or recreational development in the resort areas could result in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of additional foregone tax dollars. A case can be made for providing tax incentives to redevelopment in the downtown area. Indeed, the Official Community Plan (OCP) and the Strategic Sustainability Plan (SSP) repeatedly refer to policies for revitalizing the downtown commercial area including the use of revitalization tax exemptions. Neither the OCP nor the SSP makes any mention of the need to revitalize the resort areas. Council ignored the provisions in these plans when they distributed this largesse. Council also ignored the process defined in the Community Charter while adopting this poorly written and confusing bylaw. They rewrote history by altering meeting minutes after the fact to avoid including any meaningful changes in the bylaw. They accepted applications for these tax exemptions a month before the bylaw was passed. And those applications were for projects that were started earlier this year without any expectation of any tax exemption. None of these details bothered the majority of council members in their scramble to provide this unnecessary and unearned gift to developers. But they still want the taxpayers of Rossland to believe they were thinking of the community not the developers when they adopted this offensive bylaw. Do you believe they had community interest in mind? Andy Stradling was the only other councillor who opposed this bylaw. Laurie Charlton