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New Westminster to slash industrial property taxes

Property tax in New Westminster is being slashed by 20 per cent this year, but only for the city's light industrial land.

Council committed to a plan on Monday to reduce the light industry rate by 34 per cent in the next three years to make it competitive with neighbouring municipalities. The decrease, however, is not expected to mean an increase in residential property tax to compensate for lost revenue.

Rates will drop by 20 per cent in 2013, five per cent in 2014 and nine per cent in 2015. According to a staff report, New Westminster's 2012 light industrial tax was nearly double the average in Metro Vancouver. New West currently has roughly $84 million in assessed light industrial land bringing in $2.1 million in revenue. But with several significant projects in the works worth around $74 million, the city doesn't expect it will have less revenue with the reduction.

The city also said over the next three to five years, proposed new projects could add another $69 million in new construction value.

"It makes sense, if we're talking about living, working and playing in your community. Light industry/manufacturing are very important components," said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr.

Coun. Bill Harper said the move will make New West competitive in the market, especially for the Queensborough area and the Braid industrial park.

Harper said even though land values are relatively the same compared to Burnaby, Coquitlam, Richmond and Surrey, New Westminster's mill rate was well above what they charged.

"This was a real inhibitor of the development of our light industrial areas of our city, particularly in Queensborough. I think changing this will be an economic driver," Harper said at council. "This is a wise move by council. It's really about building business in the city."

Harper pointed out with several projects in the works combined with a competitive rate there is potential for the city to get more revenue than the current $2.1 million.

"It could end up being a considerable gain," said Harper.

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