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

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

B.C. Sports Hall of Fame to give Giants owner Ron Toigo W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based team has been involved with junior hockey since the 1990s

Church invites all faiths to a labyrinth walk

The labyrinth at St. Dunstan’s church is inviting everyone to an interfaith gathering on Nov. 18.

Artist uses paint to tell stories from past

Detlef (Dick) Aporta tells stories of working at White Pine Sawmill in his exhibit Always Becoming.

VIDEO: Young Langley boy uses his grief to help other kids suffering loss

Thursday Langley Hospice hosts its Paint the Town Blue campaign to spotlight child bereavement.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Regulatory confusion over ‘toxic’ stink near Abbotsford school

Officials sniffing out which regulators responsible for enforcing compliance at neighbouring property

Most Read