Parksville taxes: Neufeld would raise rates

City councillor says he will speak to Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce members about his ideas

If people want to the city to maintain services, taxes have to go up, according to Parksville councillor Bill Neufeld.

Last year, only months into his first term as councillor, Neufeld declared his intention to run for mayor in the next municipal election, which is not until November, 2014.

While he said he’s basically happy with the business-to-residential property tax ratio, the overall rate has to go up if the city is to continue to develop and maintain infrastructure, and offer the same level of service.

But while the tax ratio may be right, he would like to see developers paying higher development cost charges (DCCs) and businesses pay the same rate for water as residents. Business currently pays less per cubic metre.

He sites admittedly-old U.S. university studies that found development can cost a city 1.5 times the DCCs collected, referring to the external and wider costs of having more people in the city using roads and services. Neufeld said that means residents subsidize developers.

He said he’s not concerned about the additional cost to business because they receive additional services in commercial areas including policing, sidewalks and “free” on-street parking, paid for by taxpayers.

On the cost of water, Rudi Widdershoven, president of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce, questioned city council last fall during their update of the water rates, asking why council would want equal water charges when they don’t want equality in other areas like property taxes where business pays a higher rate.

He said an increase in the cost of water would hurt business and not help with council’s goal of encouraging conservation, since businesses already do everything they can to conserve water since it effects their financial bottom line.

Neufeld said he’s in the process of arranging a time to speak to the chamber about his views, which were a big part of his platform when he ran for council and will be again when he runs for mayor in November 2014. A date or time has not yet been scheduled for any talk with chamber representatives, said Neufeld.