Warfield has decided to take a conservative approach and put Phase 2 of an amalgamation study with Trail on hold, due to the uncertainty of industrial taxation.
The decision comes after a survey of residents clearly favoured the continuation of the study that explores what the two communities would look like as one.
All Trail respondents and 62 per cent of Warfielders who participated in a public survey following a July 21 amalgamation meeting, supported proceeding with the second half of the study, it was announced Friday.
“We don’t want to see this deliberation closed down, we want it to move ahead,” clarified Warfield Mayor Jim Nelson. “But we just want to take a breather and evaluate things before we move ahead.”
The village is keeping a watchful eye on potential changes to industrial taxation rules at the provincial level and is following a Supreme Court case that could very well be a catalyst for changes ahead, as well as acknowledging the premier’s wish to revise this tax to attract industry across the globe.
“There is something going on in Victoria in regards to industrial taxation and we would like to get some clarification on this before we proceed,” said Nelson, pointing to some direction offered at the upcoming Union of British Columbia Municipalities.
“All we can say is that we’re doing this on behalf of the taxpayers of the Village of Warfield to find out what kind of level of playing field we’re going to have when it comes to industrial taxation.”
Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs is surprised and disappointed by the village’s decision to delay the study that has been a long-time coming.
The city has wanted to explore local government restructuring in Greater Trail for some time and is having a hard time understanding why the village approached it in the first place, when the future of industrial taxation was unknown well before Urban Systems was paid to start the $34,000 study, Bogs indicated.
“Having Warfield advance a concern such as uncertainty around future industrial property taxes, appears to be more of an unsubstantiated delay tactic, especially given that the village’s tax base is almost 100 per cent residential and any diversification would appear to improve the village’s financial position and long-term sustainability considerably,” said Bogs in a news release.
Phase 1 of the study highlighted three amalgamation scenarios – business as usual, increased efficiencies and enhanced services – and ultimately concluded that taxes would fluctuate between a $42 decrease to a $12 increase per year for a $200,000 home. The study projects under the business as usual scenario that property taxes for business owners in Warfield will increase by about $370 per $100,000 in assessed value, which would gradually be phased in.
General concerns expressed by Warfielders who took part in the survey include a loss of identity and community, should the two communities merge, appreciation for the current level of service received and whether areas like yard waste collection and recreation programs would remain as is.
After evaluating public input, Urban Systems concluded that there was support to move onto the second phase of the analysis.