Mayor and council:
I am writing to express my concerns over the council’s proposed Rental Housing Incentives Program ·
After the recently announced significant property tax increase for Smithers taxpayers, I find it a bit extravagant that now council is proposing to add to the taxpayers’ burden by reducing and/or waiving many costs to developers of rental housing.
The Town of Smithers has in place a tax system and fee for services system that has been in place for a while now. Citizens and developers have been paying taxes and fees for years now in order to build homes, of many types, for themselves and other citizens of Smithers.
Why should this system now be altered to favour one group or type of housing over another?
Now if council adopts the new proposed policy, who is to pick up these waived expenses in the future? Will that be the current taxpayers of Smithers; the ones that now have to figure out how to pay for the recent property tax increase?
I doubt those people will be impressed to hear that some of those tax increases may go toward subsidies to new developments, maybe on lands donated by the Town of Smithers.
Money going to waived services fees instead of sidewalk improvements. Money going to make up tax breaks given to for-profit rental units instead of improvements to unseen services like past expected lifetime water and sewer pipes that need attention.
I do appreciate the work council does for our community but I do question the wisdom of proceeding with a subsidy program and tax break incentives for builders and developers of for-profit rental housing.
I don’t think the limited tax base in Smithers should be burdened with these costs, or more accurately reduced revenues in the form of waivers and tax breaks, when many other items could be addressed that would benefit all citizens now and in the future.
I strongly urge mayor and council to reject the proposed Rental Housing Incentives Program.