By Alex Rinfret–The minister responsible for municipalities is coming to Prince Rupert later this month to see first-hand the challenges created by New Skeena’s $12-million tax debt, says MLA Bill Belsey.
Mr. Belsey said he invited the minister, Murray Coell, to Rupert because the recent bankruptcy of New Skeena is having a huge impact.
Previous city councils spent the money the pulp mill should have been contributing, although the business didn’t pay its municipal taxes for about the past seven years.
The tax issue has the potential to affect the islands, because Rupert is the biggest contributor to the Skeena-Queen Charlotte regional district budget.
The city withheld $100,000 in taxes from the regional district last month, and wants that amount to be covered by regional district reserve funds.
Mr. Belsey said he could see some logic in Rupert’s decision to withhold the $100,000.
“If they didn’t collect the taxes from Skeena, how are they going to pay?” he asked. “They are in a dilemma.”
The province has told Rupert it didn’t have to pay the school taxes owed by Skeena, Mr. Belsey said, and the situation with the regional district is similar.
It’s not clear yet how the city will deal with the $12-million it spent but never received from the mill.
“They’ve been dealt a tough hand,” Mr. Belsey said of Rupert city council. “It’s having a huge impact on taxpayers, absolutely.”
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