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Mayor at UBCM exploring industry taxation; term limits

 Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff is currently at the annual general meeting of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in Whistler, and he said there's been no shortage of interesting material to keep delegates busy, with issues including industrial taxation and term limits for municipal representatives.

“We had a meeting yesterday on major industrial taxation,” said Chernoff, who sits on the province's Major Industry Taxation Steering Committee. The committee was struck to develop solutions for major industry rate-payers who say they're paying grossly disproportionate tax bills, like Celgar, which launched a lawsuit against the City of Castlegar last year. The case has since been resolved.
 
“We gave a brief to the (UBCM) membership describing our process from square-one through to today,” said Chernoff. “We received a response (to our recommendations) from the provincial government, that they're going to consider including our recommendations in the 2011 budget.
 
“It'll cost a lot of money – so they didn't really give us a 'yes' or 'no'. I guess it's a firm 'maybe'.”
 
In other UBCM news, Chernoff said the issue of extending municipally-elected representatives terms from three years to four has been a contentious one.
 
“The hottest item has been the term limits,” he said. “The first vote (for extending the limits) was defeated, I tihnk 268 to 244,” he said. “But the door wasn't closed during the vote, and people were coming and going, so the vote was declared void.
 
“It was debated and debated, and they finally decided to do it by secret ballot tomorrow morning.”
 
Chernoff said it's no secret how he'll vote.
 
“It doesn't make a lot of difference to me, but for newly-elected people, I think four years is better,” he said. “It allows you time to build yourself into the system, and creates more stability.
 
“Some projects can take two or three years, and it's best to have the same people on board throughout the process.”
 
Chernoff will be returning this weekend.