© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Coun. Lee Atkinson suggests at Mondayâs city council meeting that the city needs a policy in dealing with tax exemptions.
Phasing in property taxes over the course of five years helped attract a 94-bed assisted living project to Prince Albert.
The cityâs elected officials approved the five-year phasing in of taxes at Mondayâs city council meeting, during which Coun. Lee Atkinson called to question the one-off tax exemption.
âIf we are to believe that tax exemptions are the way to attract more business to our community âŠ then I think we need to flesh out a policy of who can participate in that,â he argued to mixed response from the balance of council.
âIâm a little hesitant about having a cut and dry policy,â Coun. Martin Ring countered.
âWe want to have the signal out there that weâre open for business and that weâre open to negotiate for business when they come to city hall -- that theyâll be able to talk to the mayor, city manager and all our various departments to see what we have to offer.â
Couns. Tim Scharkowski and Mark Tweidt backed this sentiment -- that cut and dry policies can become restrictive to developers.
âItâs kind of got to be an open door of looking at each one as it comes in,â Scharkowski concluded.
Mayor Greg Dionne noted that âevery deal is different,â and that a blanket policy would result in developers who would otherwise not request a tax incentive receiving one.
âAt the end of the day, no matter what we give, every individual one, in my opinion, must be approved by this council,â Dionne said.
If we are to believe that tax exemptions are the way to attract more business to our community âŠ then I think we need to flesh out a policy of who can participate in that. Lee Atkinson
As it is, the Caleb Group project at 19 Guy Drive will not pay any taxes property during their first two years. Theyâll pay 75 per cent during year three, 50 per cent during year four and 25 per cent during year five.
Between municipal and education taxes, this translates into a tax exemption of $7,380 during their construction year of 2015, $137,232 in 2016, followed by $102,993, $68,662 and then $34,331.
The total exemption adds up to $350,598.
The Caleb Group has estimated that the construction project will create between 59 and 75 construction jobs followed by between 30 and 40 year-round jobs after it opens in late 2015 or early 2016.
The four-storey, 95,000-square-foot building is expected to bring in an economic spinoff of more than $10 million during its 15-month construction period and an annual economic stimulus of $1 million per year once it's open.
Future city council debate regarding tax incentives will take place in the public forum, Dionne stated at Mondayâs meeting.
âI really do believe we should debate in public, so the public understands when we do this why we do this,â he said.
âI think itâs important that the general public and the voters out there understand why weâre doing certain things like this.â