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

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Two women injured in late-night assault outside White Rock restaurant

‘All he had to do was turn around and leave’ - victim

Surrey school district surpasses projected enrolment

Lastest student numbers as of Sept. 30

Surrey Schools reminds parents, students of cannabis restrictions

District says approach ‘similar’ to alcohol, tobacco policies

Former Surrey cop Dario Devic gets four-month ‘jail sentence to be served in the community’

Former RCMP officer will be under house arrest for two months after Creep Catchers bust in Surrey

SLIDESHOW: PAN’s week in pictures

Highlights from this week’s Peace Arch News

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

VIDEO: G-Men seek revenge Saturday night in rematch at Langley Events Centre

Portland’s Winterhawks downed the Vancouver Giants 5-3 during a road trip down south.

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

UPDATE: Murder victim was brother of slain gang leader

Mandeep Grewal gunned down Thursday in Abbotsford, brother Gavin killed in North Van in 2017

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

How to get government cheques if Canada Post staff go on strike

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers said members could go on rotating strikes as early as Monday

Most Read

l -->