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Spending, not taxes, should be city's focus, Chamber says

Mar 29 2012

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce may back the City of Victoria's move to reduce the tax burden carried by the business community, but the organization suggests there are more pressing concerns.

"We have a spending problem," said Chamber CEO Bruce Carter. "We are outpacing the growth of the economy two or three times and we have done that for almost 20 years and that's not sustainable.

"The other thing is a vibrant downtown is an important part of Victoria and the regional economy, and the City of Victoria has to send messages that they recognize that and are willing to invest in it."

Carter was speaking after a presentation by economist Peter Adams at city hall Tuesday.

Adams, of the Victoria Consulting Network, was hired to review and make recommendations on Victoria's tax policies as the city looks to shift the burden of property taxes between the various classes of property.

Businesses in Victoria pay 3.59 times the property tax that residents pay. The city has a goal of reducing the ratio to 3: 1.

Adams instead advocates reducing the business share of taxes from 49.4 per cent to 48 per cent over three years.

Adams also said the city should continue to try to reduce the overall rate of increases in property tax.

The challenge of balancing the tax burden would be easier if tax increases were more moderate, Carter said.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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