Letters to the editor 

This letter was addressed to Finance Minister Gary Collins.

Re: Provincial residential Property Taxes in Whistler

Thank you for you reply of 8 April to my last letter to you of 2 February on this matter. I am, however, still concerned that no direct response or comment has ever been received either from you or from your Ministry officials to the written submissions and proposals for tax relief for permanent resident owners in Whistler made by myself and other members of the Whistler Scholl Tax Action Committee dating as far back as September of 2001. Furthermore, in spite of our repeated requests, we have never been afforded the opportunity to meet with your officials to try and work together on an acceptable plan for tax relief.

Put very simply, our proposals have contained two key elements:

1. That, in keeping with its own legislative authority and declared policy, the Provincial government set a special tax rate for residential property in Whistler as if it were a stand-alone school district. Applying the Province's allocation formula this way would produce a mil rate of 2.27184 for Whistler rather than the rate of 2.5644 already indicated for the entire Howe Sound District – a reduction of 11.4 per cent and lowering the province's total residential property tax in Whistler by $2 million.

This would also bring Whistler more into line with West Vancouver where the average assessment is lower and yet their mil rate is also lower than in Whistler. It would also still leave the province with an increase of $1.2 million over the already excessive tax levied in 2002 plus an additional $300,000 due to owners losing their Home Owner Grant this year.

2. Assuming that it is now too late to pass legislation eliminating the assessment cap of $525,000 disqualifying permanent resident owners from receiving the provincial Home Owners Grant this year, at least allow the municipality to claw back a large portion of the provincial tax relief and pay it out to all permanent resident owners here in the form of a Municipal Supplemental Home Owners' Grant. At an average supplemental grant of say $500 for each of about 2,400 such owners, this would direct about $1.2 million of the tax relief to local residents thus achieving the very solution that you stated in your letter you were working towards, that is:

"a solution that balances our common desire to address concerns of local residents, while not providing an undue benefit to people (non-resident owners) who have leisure properties."

The net result would be a 4.5 per cent reduction in total taxes for all residential property owners and a further reduction of 6.8 per cent in the total taxes otherwise payable by all permanent resident owners.

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