Seventeen candidates back proposed tax shift
Posted on October 22, 2016 in In the Media
Saskatoon could well see the overall proportion of property tax paid by businesses reduced if city council candidates’ responses to a survey accurately reflect their intentions.
The North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) asked all 40 candidates for city council and mayor where they stand on a proposal to shift property tax from businesses to residents.
The StarPhoenix also followed up with candidates whose responses were not posted on the NSBA website.
The NSBA asked the following question: “Do you support a lowering of the municipal property tax ratio of commercial and industrial taxpayers from its present premium of 175 per cent to 143 per cent over an extended period of time (i.e. 16 years)?”
Sixteen candidates expressed support for the move, including two who are running for mayor, while nine said they oppose the move. Another 15 gave unclear answers or did not respond.
Saskatoon lowered the commercial-to-residential tax ratio from 241 per cent to 175 per cent between 2001 and 2010, which resulted in about $4.7 million in increased taxes annually for residential property owners.
The ratio means commercial and industrial property owners pay about $1.75 for every dollar paid by residential property owners. Saskatoon city council is expected to vote on this shift in 2017.
Opponents of the move, like mayoral candidate Charlie Clark, have argued against it, saying it will shift the tax burden onto residential ratepayers.
Those in favour, like mayoral candidate Kelley Moore, have countered that lowering the burden for businesses will attract more investment and result in lower taxes overall. Moore also called the shift “fictional” in a post on her Facebook page.
Mayoral candidate Don Atchison has said he supports the proposed reduction, but added it needs to be done over a long period, perhaps 20 years, and only during healthy economic times.
Some candidates, like Cynthia Block (Ward 6) and Bev Dubois (9), gave noncommittal answers to the NSBA question, but spoke against the proposal at forums. Zach Jeffries (Ward 10) told the NSBA he backs the proposal if it can be proven it will not increase residential taxes.
Darren Hill (Ward 1) said on Twitter that he opposes the move unless it can be proven the tax burden will not be shifted to homeowners.
It appears some candidates did not understand the implications of the question.
Atchison, Moore, Robert Godfrey (2), Pat Lorje (2), Kelly Parker (2), Mark Zielke (2), Mark Mills (3), Troy Davies (4), Randy Donauer (5), Howard Fullford (6), Ian Rambally (6), Evan Drisner (8), Thomas Hrynuik (9), Jeff Jackson (9), Roxanne Kaminski (9), Jeffries, Mattea Merta (10).
Hilary Gough (2), Clark (6), Paul Miazga (5), Mike McKague (6), Josie Steeves (6), Troy Wruck (6), Mairin Loewen (7), Robin Mowat (9), David Cook (9).
Devon Hein (mayor), Wes Cameron (1), Jeff Wortman (1), Ann Iwanchuk (3), Tobi Loopkey (4), Cynthia Block (6), Sarina Gersher (8), Bev Dubois (9).
Did not respond (six)
Tyrell Alexander (1), Darren Hill (1), Vernon Linklater (2), Mark Prebble (6), Monique Koskie (7), Aaron Kernaghan (9).