Innisfail approves a pair of special tax settlements
Mayor Jean Barclay opposes regulations on the grounds that the city must establish ‘goodwill’ with industrial park stakeholders
INNISFAIL — Following last year’s controversy over a special tax settlement in the city’s southwest West Gate Industrial Park, City Council approved two new ones for 2022 for owners of 61st Avenue and 37th street.
However, it was not unanimous with the administration’s first attempt on March 14, and final approval was not achieved until March 28.
The two special tax regulations for owners of 61st Avenue and 37th Street for the 2022 tax year were originally presented to council on March 14 for first, second and third readings.
Although each recommended a motion asking council to “consider third reading”, the votes were not unanimous and both were defeated. Each regulation failed to pass third and final reading.
The two bylaws, designed by the city to recoup some of the recent $1 million cost for road improvements, were brought back to council on March 28. The third readings then passed by a vote of 6 to 1.
Mayor Jean Barclay was the only council member to oppose the two special tax regulations.
“I believe it is important for us to build relationships with our business community and maintain a principle of fairness,” Barclay said. “There have been other road improvements in the city. We took gravel roads and they became hard surfaces. We have not applied this special tax to them, and I am thinking of 57th Street and the community gardens.
The mayor added that the revenue from the special tax represents only 0.04% of the overall budget.
“It’s really not meaningful and I would prefer that we create goodwill and work with the business community in the industrial park and maybe they would potentially support the city in our efforts to move forward. forward on some of the projects we’re considering,” she said. , adding that she was aware of a tax bill last year from the industrial park that had a 6.5% tax increase. “It is significant.”
Barclay also reminded the board that there will be major expansions taking place in the industrial park in the future.
“It benefits the whole community, not just one corner of the community,” she said. “This is also a philosophy that I have – that we should all share in the investments made to improve our community, and a road improvement project, in my view, is just one such example. .”
However, the con. Gavin Bates countered that he believed there was ‘full transparency’ with the process, and the special tax settlement which was passed by the previous council in 2021 was ‘more than fair’ to all facade users. of the industrial area.
“It was collaborative every step of the way. We met them,” Bates said. ‘I believe most of the properties were bought knowing full well they had no paving and that was probably factored into the price of their purchases and I don’t think the general tax base should pay the bill. It’s only a fraction.”
With the approval of the special tax for owners of 37th Street, the city will generate total tax revenue of $75,068.25, or $5,004.55 in revenue per year for the next 15 years. from 2022.
From the owners of 61st Avenue, the special tax settlement will generate total tax revenue of $88,134.75 or $5,875.64 in revenue per year for the next 15 years beginning in 2021.
The special tax settlement process, which began last year, hit a major snag in 2021 when 61st Avenue landlords complained through local attorney Chad Evans that they had no been properly consulted during the process.
Evans also pointed to several problematic issues that he says do not comply with the provincial Municipal Government Act (MGA). He said customer concerns centered on the timing of the special tax, the lack of consultation and the proper implementation of the tax.
City chief executive Todd Becker later apologised, admitting there were “technical challenges” with some sections of the bylaw not meeting the standards set by the MGA.
The special tax settlement issues were then addressed and corrected by the administration. The specific tax regulations must be reported each year to the council for approval.