Finance Minister Carole James has faced questions for weeks about the effect of a new property tax on vacation homes. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. keeping purse strings tight as municipalities seek relief

Finance Minister Carole James lowers expectations for UBCM

Don’t expect any relief from a steep increase in medical premium costs coming in 2019, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James has warned municipal leaders.

James is also lowering expectations for local government’s share of legalized marijuana revenues, another top issue for mayors and councillors as they gather in Whistler this week for the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The top resolution up for debate Wednesday is for the province to compensate local governments facing as much as double their medical premium costs. A new employer health tax on payrolls kicks in and they continue to pay employees’ Medical Services Plan at half the rate for the year, a double taxation that is also faced by large businesses who pay employees’ MSP premiums.

RELATED: Payroll, speculation tax top municipal agenda for B.C.

“Yes, they have a challenge in 2019,” James said. “But we believe the benefit to individuals, including the individuals who work in those businesses, of eliminating medical service premiums in this province, far outweighs the challenges of the one year they will face.”

After announcing the “employer health tax” would be assessed on all payrolls of $500,000 or more, James retreated on the tax in July. School districts, health authorities and universities will still pay the tax, but their budgets will be increased to get over the year of double taxation.

With municipal politicians going into an election for another four-year term in October, many are forced to increase property tax to cover the new payroll tax.

Another resolution given high priority by the UBCM executive is a share of provincial revenues from legalized marijuana sales that begin Oct. 17. Their proposal is for local governments to get a 40 per cent share to start, moving to 50 per cent after two years.

RELATED: B.C. towns to premier: show us the marijuana money

“Right now, we are forecasting very little revenue when it comes to cannabis, particularly in the first year,” James said. “There are a lot of up-front costs around the infrastructure that’s going to be needed, to be able to manage the licensing and the structures in our communities.

“We’re continuing to have discussions with municipalities about what they see as their role and the provincial government’s role is.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Shuswap weather: Hold on to your toque, wind and snow today

The sun will be hiding behind the clouds for the next few days

Revelstoke Acrobats bring home nine medals

Gymnastics club leaps to success on trampoline and double mini trampoline

Clovechok speaks to government remembering Field derailment victims

Doug Clovechok, Revelstoke’s MLA, spoke at the legislature today about the derailment… Continue reading

Branching out: learning to ski at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

It’s the first time at the hill for the editor of Revelstoke Review

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Guilty plea from one woman accused of stealing from Central Okanagan Hospice Association

A woman accused of bilking the hospice association of thousands of dollars made a court appearance.

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Man charged in Kamloops kidnapping makes first court appearance

Kelowna - Justin Daniels has been charged with armed robbery and forcible confinement

Okanagan College launches Indigenous cooking training

The program will infuse Indigenous-knowledge in its professional cook training

Okanagan ‘pot-caster’ talks politics and weed sales

Pot podcaster Daniel Eastman says B.C. has kind of dropped the ball as far as legalization

Do you live with your partner? More and more Canadians don’t

Statistics Canada shows fewer couples live together than did a decade ago

Most Read