p.2 City Council
Taxation of Vessels
From Capt. W.R. Taylor, asking what was the law in the matter of the taxation of vessels?
Ald. Drennan referred to the former petition of a large number of persons relating to this important matter. He asked for some information regarding the same.
Ald. Gaskin stated that the petition had been forwarded to Toronto, and was referred to a select Committee, the members of which, inclucing Mr. M.C. Cameron, had expressed an opinion that vessels could not be taxed. He had asked the city member to come down to the meeting, and suggested that the Council should hear Mr. Robinson's statement of what had been done.
Mr. Robinson, being called on, stated that he had presented the petition, but the Attorney-General said that the granting of it would involve a complete change in Municipal Legislation. He (Mr. R.) brought it up in Committee, and three or four members of it stated that they thought the taxation of vessels was wholly in the hands of the Council. His own opinion was that the taxing of vessels was an injury to the city.
Ald. Gaskin said that it was a very important matter that the ship-owners should be encouraged to stay here. Since the petition was first presented, he had been making inquiries, and found that in three-fourths of the ports of the Dominion vessels were not assessed, and in the other places they were only taxed about ten per cent on the earnings. Kingston will always command the trade, as it was a transhipping point, but if no encouragement was given to the vessel owners, it would result in an injury to the city. He referred to the case of Capt. Patterson, who had got Messrs. Power to build him the hull of a propeller at a cost of $15,000. This vessel was burnt on one of her earliest trips. Mr. Patterson got another propeller built at the cost of $35,000, and not knowning of the assessment his partner in Hamilton had ordered a third to be built at $25,000. Shortly after this Captain Patterson had received notice of assessment of $513. About this time the hard season commenced, and Captain Patterson looked around to see how to escape this heavy tax. He was invited out to Portsmouth, and he went there, where it only cost him $50 for his vessel and his dwelling house, whereas, if he had stayed in Kingston it would have cost him over $1,000. In this way the city lost a large amount of trade. In the Forwarding Company in which he (Ald. Gaskin) was connected, they transhipped six or seven million bushels of grain every year, from about 400 vessels each vessel would spend about $200, making this trade with the city about $80,000. Another firm did about the same amount of business. Ald. Gaskin went on to show the unfair manner in which floating property was taxed, and said his Company had in consequence tried to get a place for their business outside the city.
Ald. Drennan moved, seconded by Ald. Gaskin, that Ald. McIntyre, Gaskin, Power, Price and the mover be a Committee to examine into the taxation of vessels, and report to the Council at as early a date as possible.
Ald. Drennan, in supporting the resolution, said he believed it would be well to look into the matter.
Ald. McIntyre said the Court of Revision, of which he was the Chairman last year, sympathized with the ship-owners, and had brought in a report recommending that a petition be sent to the Ontario Legislature, asking power to exempt vessels from being taxed. His opinion as well as that of Ald. Price, was that they had not the power to reduce the taxation. He would be willing to make the tax six per cent on the actual value of the vessel. He stated the law on the subject, and showed that the Court of Revision or the Council had no power whatever. He was prepared to move a resolution to the effect that vessel property be only taxed six per cent.
Ald. McKelvey moved, seconded by Ald. Gaskin, that in the opinion of the Council the assessment of vessels at their real value was unfair and unjust, and that it should be done on the same basis as bank stock, viz., on the actual income.
Ald. Price agreed with Ald. McIntyre that the Council had no jurisdiction. After some general observations on the statement that the shipowners were poor men, he defended the Assessors, and said that they were only carrying out their oaths by assessing the vessels at their real value.
Moved by Ald. McIntyre, seconded by Ald. Drennan, that all floating property be assessed at only six per cent of its real value.
The resolutions of Alds. Drennan and McIntyre were withdrawn, and after a few remarks by Ald. McCammon, the motion was carried.
Petitions - Ald. McIntyre presented the petition of George Offord and about 150 other tax payers asking the Council to assist Messrs. Power & Co. in the construction of the graving dock.
Referred to the Finance Committee.
The Graving Dock - Last evening the City Council passed a recommendation of the Finance Committee for the passing of a by-law to grant assistance to the Graving Dock now building by Messrs. Power & Son.