A presentation by the Chamber of Commerce urging the city to help businesses avoid “tax shock” and provide plenty of warning prior to raising taxes left some council members shocked and offended.
Prince George Chamber of Commerce president Myron Gordon relayed Chamber member’s concerns over tax inflation rates. Businesses recognize that an appropriate level of taxation to provide service is necessary and not unreasonable – when they are in line with inflation rates, said Gordon. “The concern is that these increased rates need to be communicated well ahead of time as members are suddenly having to budget for an increase they haven’t planned for.”
Gordon went on to explain Chamber concerns over Prince George businesses having a competitive disadvantage to markets in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan. In order to maintain growth in the business community, the Chamber report read, care must be taken to ensure new businesses are attracted to our city, or given the opportunity to be established here, while nurturing current business.
Mayor Colin Kinsley said he was shocked at what he thought were misconceptions held by Chamber members. “A competitive disadvantage?” he asked. “I thought Prince George was at a competitive advantage. I believe Council has done a tremendous job at providing opportunities for growing businesses. Selling our community and expanding our economy has been our number one priority.”
Gordon explained that Chamber was merely bringing up what members had been voicing as concerns, stating that the risk of higher taxes discourage them from expanding their facilities or business. With the natural movement of businesses and residents southward, and to larger urban centres, higher businesses taxes will only fuel this issue, much to the detriment of Prince George.
Councillor Glen Scott said he “took offence” to the report and felt it was an unfair comment to say that businesses were considering taking their shops and product elsewhere. “We have a tremendous amount of great business people here,” he said.
Myron admitted that taxation can take a front seat. “Unfortunately when we’re talking about costs, we are not always talking about taxes, but that’s what people seem to focus on,” he said. “That’s what gets their attention first – that’s what they look at.”