BAGUIO CITY – The city council will be conducting a one-time sweeping public hearing sometime in April or May in order to gather the individual and collective sentiments of the people on the proposed revised tax ordinance of the city government before acting on the same.
The one-time sweeping consultation was agreed upon by the members of the city council Monday in order to get the position papers of the different groups regarding the pending ordinance that fixes the real property and business taxes being collected by the city government from its constituents.
The council is looking at the Baguio Convention Center as the venue for the public hearing in order to accommodate as many interested individuals and groups who will participate in discussing the proposed increase in the city’s real property and business taxes.
Several councillors proposed that the public hearing be done the soonest so that they could subsequently act on the same but the Baguio Convention Centers seems to be fully booked and that the only available vacant date would fall in April, thus, the proposed public hearing will be scheduled as soon as the government facility will be vacant.
The council was forced to deliberate on a proposed ordinance increasing the city’s real property and business taxes after the Cordillera office of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF-CAR) rated the performance of the city as poor in economic resiliency for its failure to update its real property tax schedules and business taxes for nearly two decades now.
It can be recalled that the city government was only able to update its real property taxes in 1998 and its business taxes in 2000 which in violation of the provisions of the Local Government Code that mandates local government units to update their real property schedules every five years and their business taxes every three years.
The council wants to observe the necessary process in the conduct of public consultations in relation to the proposal to increase real property and business taxes in order to prevent the ordinance from again being questioned by concerned interest groups.
In 1995, the city government passed an ordinance denominated as Ordinance No. 95-001 increasing the city’s business taxes but the same was questioned until it was retrained by the courts after finding that the local tax measure did not undergo the required public consultations. The city was then constrained to pass an amendatory ordinance which was denominated as Ordinance No. 2000-001 which is now serving as the basis for the collection of local taxes.
The city placed 19 among 136 cites in terms of economic resilience due to the failure of the local government to update its tax measures to conform with the prevailing situation and placed 15 overall after placing 9th in good governance and 21st in infrastructure development.
Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan is optimistic that the city council will be able to pass the new tax ordinance the soonest so that the city will be able to compete in the assessment of the competitiveness of cities by the later part of this year and will be able to improve its standing in the coming years.
He said taxes are the lifeblood of the government and local residents are obliged to pay their taxes due to the city government to allow the increased implementation of projects and enhanced delivery of basic services. By Dexter A. See