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General News · 25th January 2010
Noba Anderson
Proposed Cortes Community Hall Service

THANK-you to you who have called and written with questions and comments, to those who came out to the information session or listened on the radio. Regardless of your perspective, I am very grateful to those of you that seek and share correct information – it helps us all.

Your Responses
I am hearing three types of response to the proposed Cortes community hall tax service.

1. Some people do not believe that our community halls should be supported through taxation, either because they rarely use the halls or believe that in principle funds should come from other sources.

2. Others, largely high-end property owners, are quite willing to contribute through taxation but don’t think a tax structure based entirely on property assessments is a fair way of raising the funds.

3. Lastly, many support the proposal as presented and are glad to see this proactive approach.

As a community, we have become more informed about the chronic funding shortfall at Manson’s Hall and the option to collectively respond through the creation of an island-wide funding service that could support both island halls.

I am hearing that fair taxation should strike a balance between the taxpayers’ ability to pay and the benefit to the taxpayer derived from the provided service. Some of you are saying that the current proposed bylaw does not best represent that balance. However, I am predominantly hearing that you are indeed willing to support your community spaces through taxation.

Our Options

There are various tax formulas that could be used to raise funds for our community halls including:

- taxation based solely on assessed property values (footnote 1),

- a flat parcel tax that taxes all properties the same amount regardless of property value (footnote 2),

- a combination of the above where the first $x is generated from a flat parcel tax and the remainder is raised through property value taxation, with a possible tax cap,

- a parcel tax with a differential rate that taxes property assets differently; i.e. waterfront vs. inland properties, or raw land vs. build out lots.

My Proposal
If this current bylaw passes (less than 99 response forms submitted), I commit to advising the SRD board to:

1. tax no more than $50,000 (or $0.15 per $1,000) into this service for 2010 (that’s $30 for a $200,000 property or $75 for a $500,000 property),

2. continue this discussion about alternative tax structures and bring forward a bylaw amendment for the 2011 tax year that best reflects the collective community will, and

3. write a protocol agreement between the two community associations and the Strathcona Regional District that would ensure a process for community input into the amount taxed from year to year.

This would enable you to support Manson’s Hall in this year of acute financial need and consider an amendment to the bylaw for the 2011 tax year and beyond. If you have already submitted a response form, yet feel comfortable with this proposal, you can contact the SRD to retract your form.

If the current bylaw fails, I will advise the SRD board not to take the bylaw to referendum. Rather I will continue further community discussion and commit to bring forward a new bylaw with a modified tax structure and/or amount for your consideration for the 2011 tax year.

Thank-you for your attention and consideration,

Noba Anderson, Cortes Regional Director

footnote 1 - Residential properties pay 90% of overall Cortes land taxes, while business properties pay 6%, managed forest lands pay 2% and the final 2% is comprised of utilities, light industry, farms and recreational / non profit holdings.

footnote 2 - There are approximately 900 properties on Cortes (of which 3% are managed forest land). To raise $50,000 through a flat parcel tax, each property would pay about $55 per year.