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LETTER: Port McNeill councillor responds to May 12 North Island Rising column

‘council raised residential taxes for no reason and I stand by that statement’

Dear editor,

RE: North Island Rising column published May 12, 2021

As a councillor I have tried to understand the issues facing our community. Port McNeill has been financially hammered the last two years. First we endured an eight month forest industry labor dispute. The labor problems resulted in a tough year for many of our residents. Our business community took a hit too. Some businesses closed, workers were laid off. There was real hardship in Port McNeill. Then came COVID-19. Our tourism industry dropped off almost 100 per cent. More business closures, layoffs, departures for opportunities elsewhere. We have had two harsh years. I see my role as a councillor as one where manage taxpayers money as if it was my own. I intend to continue doing just that.

It is interesting that when a councillor stands up for the regular citizens and business people who have chosen him to represent them, the press calls his actions unruly! It should be noted that the chair did not rule that my comments were out of order. Maybe not popular, but not out of order.

The real question here is why is the town raising taxes on residential and local business customers when there is the right and opportunity to raise taxes elsewhere.

Bill McQuarrie got it partly right when stating that business taxes were unduly low. I was very specific about which taxes were too low. Assuming there is nothing we can cut from the budget, where could we find the $35,000 we will raise from this tax increase on residential and small business taxpayers? In my view, there are at least two sources.

1. Major Industry Industrial, Light Industrial Rural and Managed Forest rural. A significant amount of tax is not being collected from these categories. A call to our CAO may get you a list of which companies are represented in these categories. The issue of the under taxation of industry has been on the table since this council was elected. For one reason or another the inequity has not been addressed. This is not a new issue for council, just a new issue for Bill McQuarrie.

2. Provincial g overnment grant. Due to financial losses caused by COVID-19, the provincial government sent the Town of Port McNeill a check for $888,000 for COVID mitigation. We could use a portion of these funds to hold tax increases to zero for small business and residential property owners. If there was ever a time to help out our residents and our businesses, it is this year, yet property taxes are increased. Not because the funds are needed but because we can! This councillor is opposed to unfair tax increases. I do not apologize and I maintain my belief that this tax increase is not necessary. The “COVID” money is to help defray the loss of revenue and pay for extra expenses due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and to perhaps help our citizens directly.

I made the statement that council raised residential taxes for no reason and I stand by that statement. We have several alternate revenue sources but council decided to put the burden on homeowners and small business. I stand opposed to raising taxes on residential and small business while leaving money on the table from major corporations, managed forest lands and big business. I commend Bill McQuarrie for actually commenting on the substance of the debate even if he did not get all the facts. Great to see you there, Bill! As a councillor, I expect to be held to account for truth and fairness. Politicians, like reporters, need to stick to the facts so I will ignore the rest of the tripe printed in the North Island Rising opion piece on May 12,2021.

Ryan Mitchell,

Port McNeill councillor

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