Escalating taxes are handcuffing Pemberton businesses. Thats the message Rick May of R&G Holdings brought to council at the April. 4 meeting. May, whose holdings include Mountain Glass & Mirror, also alleged that his request for a meeting had gone unanswered for six weeks.
He said he had attended the meeting to "protest the ridiculous hike of taxes in the commercial area."
He read from letters of support from local business owners Pat Kelly and Victor Lee, citing more than a dozen additional supporters. May said that he and his supporters believe that the current taxation structure is putting the business environment in jeopardy.
He also alleged that the council was putting undue financial pressure on the owners of downtown commercial properties to avoid hiking residential taxes. The former council member speculated that increased taxes were a result of a council concerned with paying for unnecessary extras.
"The councils I have served on in Pemberton in the past years were less concerned with bells and whistles than we were in creating budgets that had a minimum effect on the taxpayer. We did not spend money unless it was there to spend, as a result the taxes within the village were in line with other small towns in rural areas. At present it seems that the village wants to be more in line or exceed the rates of Whistler."
In his letter of support, Pat Kelly, owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company, notes that his utility rates on a Pemberton property were three times higher than that of a larger property he owned in Whistler.
Mays grievance expressed at the council meeting extended beyond the issue of taxation and into the process in which his initial request for a meeting had been handled.
"For the last year and a half I have been questioning commercial taxation," said May. "And I have been snubbed by this council for the past six weeks."
May explained that he had hand-delivered letters, marked private and confidential to each of the council on March 10. He found the fact that his letter had not been dealt with in a private and confidential manner and that his letter had become an issue on a public agenda particularly irksome.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy defended adding the information to the agenda, reasoning that the discussion was best held in a public forum.
"I would say that when something is marked Private and Confidential thats the way it should be. If something comes into my office marked Private and Confidential, its treated that way," retorted May.
Council has agreed to meet with May in the near future.