Town’s tax relief program ‘not enough’

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

“Not enough!”

It was the reaction from the president of the High Prairie and Area Chamber of Commerce after the Town of High Prairie announced a one-month tax relief program at its May 5 special meeting.

The tax relief includes all residential and business property owners.

“In my opinion, it’s not enough,” says Barry Sharkawi.

“As a chamber, it’s not enough to help businesses.”

Sharkawi suggested at the electronic town hall meeting April 20 that a 30 per cent tax relief program be instituted.

“Business is slow, businesses are shutting down,” says Sharkawi at the meeting.

He adds in an interview after the May 5 meeting that for “some businesses reopening on May 14, business won’t be the same. It will take time.”

Sharkawi believes the pandemic may be more long-term than short-term.

“People believe it’s not over. There is no cure [vaccine] for it. So the businesses need a good break.”

Town of High Prairie administration calculated the exact number on what the 10 per cent break will cost: $286,987.58. It was first estimated the figure would be between $300,000 and $400,000.

The tax relief includes only the municipal portion of the tax bill.

At the town hall meeting, another High Prairie businessman, Greg Radstaak, agreed. He said a tax break would allow businessman to keep their capital to help restart [pay bills] when the ban lifts.

Radstaak closed Smitty’s Restaurant March 15. It was one of the first to close.

“The expenses are still coming in,” said Radstaak. Preserve the capital and wait this out.”

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One thought on “Town’s tax relief program ‘not enough’

  1. Hermann Minderlein · Edit

    I can sympathise with Mr. Sharkawi and other business in High Prairie, and throughout Canada for that matter, but I believe he forgets that unlike the provincial and federal governments, municipalities are unable to run deficits. To cut or rebate taxes from one class of ratepayers, Council must be able to either find cuts (usually resulting in reduced services) in their budget, draw down on operating reserves, or raise the funds by increasing taxes to the other classes of ratepayers, those being residential and agricultural.

    The other option would be for them to lobby the federal or provincial governments to provide such assistance to businesses, but this would be better done by the chamber who could request a letter of support from the Council. Should the business community persue such relief, best that they ask how such relief is doled out as they were unhappy with rent relief programs, but I would hope Councils would request that any relief doled out on behalf of the businesses be provided directly to the municipalities.

    Municipal government have enough on their plates during these challenging times, and asking them to provide assistance by increasing taxes to others is not another matter that needs to be offloaded on them.

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