Penticton city council is considering raising the city’s business tax multiplier to 1.83 per cent in 2020 and 1.91 per cent in 2021, which the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is opposed to. The chamber is urging council to consider the current needs of small businesses in the city. (Photo from Google Maps)

Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce concerned about proposed business tax hike

The City of Penticton is considering raising the BTM to 1.83 per cent in 2020, 1.91 per cent in 2021

The Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce is concerned with the proposed hike for Penticton’s business tax multiplier (BTM).

In a release issued Dec. 12, the chamber stated it attended the city council’s budget deliberations on Dec. 10 to express concerns with the proposed increase that would raise the city’s BTM from 1.81 per cent to 1.83 per cent in 2020, and 1.91 per cent in 2021.

“The chamber is disappointed that the city staff recommendation and the council feedback seemed to express a lack of concern for the importance of keeping the cost of doing business affordable in Penticton,” said Nicole Clark, president of the chamber, in the release.

The release explains that due to different tax rates, businesses in B.C. pay multiple times the property tax bill that a resident would on an equivalent size property, so the BTM is the amount by which a resident’s tax rate is multiplied to generate the business tax rate.

READ MORE: Community safety, recreation and culture first topics of discussion in Penticton’s 2020 budget

In advance of the 2019 budget deliberations, Penticton’s CFO Jim Bauer said the city’s BTM, which was at 1.73 per cent, was at one of the lowest rates in the province.

“The BTM average in the Okanagan Valley is sitting at 2.28 per cent and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recommends a multiplier of no more than two,” said Bauer to Western News in February, who added that provincial average at the time was 2.73 per cent.

Chamber director Daryl Clarke was in attendance at the Dec. 10 meeting and highlighted that this year’s hike would see small businesses pay an annual increase of $529 in taxes and $869 in fees in general, according to the release.

“We have already seen some significant business closures in the community in recent weeks. The chamber is concerned that this increase is taking the city in the wrong direction. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the community,” said chamber chair Jason Cox in the release.

“They are the employers, the community supporters, the service providers that we all count on and increases like this will have serious impact on their ability to hire, or in some cases, stay in business.”

The release urges city council to consider the current needs of Penticton’s business sector and show support for small businesses, “through spending restraint, low business taxes and adopting policies that encourage economic growth.”

City council is expected to conclude budget deliberations on Dec. 12 following two full days of discussions surrounding the city’s many departments, assets and more.

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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