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

Wide variety of art for sale at Art from the Heart show

Student art show runs Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Blues group Angel Forrest Trio at Bozzini’s in Chilliwack

Award-winning band from Quebec performs Nov. 28

District of Kent to implement snow fence pilot project

$8,000 project to help prevent hazardous, drifting snow, and more from Kent council

PHOTOS: Fraser Valley Eagle Festival

Mission photographer Bob Friesen shares some of his images with the Record

PHOTOS: Harrison warms up to Christmas

The Lions Club hosts holiday event for community

VIDEO: B.C. legislature clerk, sergeant at arms suspended for criminal investigation

Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz on administrative leave

Former NHL player and coach Dan Maloney dies at 68

Maloney coached the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets

Ex-MSU president charged with lying to police about Nassar

Lou Anna Simon was charged Tuesday with lying to police during an investigation

Police aim to prevent retaliation after Hells Angel found dead under B.C. bridge

IHIT confirms Chad Wilson, 43, was the victim of a ‘targeted’ homicide

Otter makes a snack out of koi fish in Vancouver Chinese garden

Staff say the otter has eaten at least five fish

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

B.C. lumber mills struggle with shortage of logs, price slump

Signs of recovery after U.S. market swings, industry executive says

25% of Canadians still won’t say they use pot, survey says

Statistics Canada poll says Canadians on average were 18.9 years old when they first tried pot.

Canucks’ 50/50 jackpot expected to surpass $1 million

The guaranteed prize for one lucky winner will be $500,000 minimum when Vancouver hosts LA Nov 27

Most Read