Zellstoff Celgar general manager Al Hitzroth will be attending this Monday night's budget unveiling at the Community Forum, appearing as a delegation to speak to, "the critical need for major industry tax decreases in order for the mill to remain competitive in today’s international markets," according to a city press release issued this afternoon.
Along with the budget, residents can also expect to learn about a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Castlegar and Celgar, which includes these commitments (as outlined in the press release:
- "Celgar will pay all outstanding 2009 taxes, penalties and interest on the outstanding amount.
- "The city will reduce Major Industry taxes by $350,000 in 2010; $55,000 in 2011 and $50,000 in 2012 and analyze potential for further reductions of $190,000 for 2013 to 2015.
- "The city will bring forward a tax revitalization Bylaw to increase outlay in Castlegar by exempting new industrial investment for a limited period."
- Celgar will withdraw its court challenge to the city’s tax bylaws.
The release lauded the "Made-in-Castlegar" MOU as, "... the first of its kind in B.C. and (it) highlights the city’s intentions in maintaining a positive relationship with its primary employer. In addition, council hopes the reduction in major industry taxes will encourage Interfor to consider reopening their mill and providing additional local employment."
The release also offered some sneak peaks at the proposed 2010 budget:
- "Significant cuts to the city’s expenditures from 2009, including a 4.7-per-cent decrease in spending for general administration, a 50-per-cent reduction for discretionary grants to community groups and individuals, and 11.6 per cent in cost savings for planning services. Council aims reduce expenditures by more than $178,000 from their 2009 spending.
- "An augmentation of residential taxes. The proposed 6.9-per-cent increase (overall, including RDCK, school, hospital, BCAA, MFA) will add approximately $118 per year (or $0.34 per day) on the average house valued at $245,000. The overall average residential taxes would remain less than many other West Kootenay municipalities including those levied in Trail in 2008.
- "A major industry tax decrease. To ensure the viability of the mill and continued employment opportunities for locals, city council engaged with Celgar Zellstoff (sic), its largest employer, and generated solutions to lower its tax rate.
The release ended with a plea for residents to attend the meeting, slated for 7 p.m., as well as subsequent public consultations.
"Castlegar residents are encouraged to attend the meeting and will have the opportunity to provide feedback at the public budget sessions scheduled for March 29 and 30. Bylaw adoption is expected to take place on April 19 at the regular council meeting."