TREENA MIELKE/Rimbey Review
Tax incentives in the Town of Rimbey, which at one point, appeared to be dying a slow, agonizing death, may be resurrected.
A new incentive to be investigated was brought forward at a special meeting June 2 between members of the Rimbey Business Association, Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson, Coun. Gayle Rondeel and the town’s CAO, Tony Goode.
A business retention and attraction incentive program policy now in place in the City of Cold Lake was introduced at the meeting by Rimbey businessman Stan Cummings.
The plan provides a program framework for business property owners who enhance existing buildings, construct new building or additions to existing buildings, or those who demolish existing buildings.
Participants in the program may be eligible for an improvement incentive, upon project completion, by way of a property tax rebate based on an increase in assessment resulting from the improvements.
Cummings and Goode plan to meet to discuss the details of the policy and look at the possibility of implementing such a plan in Rimbey.
Discussion at the meeting focused on a section of the policy that stated the grant would be provided over a five-year term to the property owner with 30 per cent repaid in year one, 30 per cent in year two, 20 per cent in year three and 10 per cent in years four and five.
Both Ibbotson and Rondeel emphasized that a five-year agreement was not feasible as a council term is only three years.
“I don’t want another council to go through what we’ve gone through,” said Ibbotson. “After three years it becomes an election issue.”
“We can’t block another council by our decision,” added Rondeel.
Business owner Karen Conover, who was in attendance at the meeting, said council needed to be open-minded in considering ways to encourage businesses to come here.
“As a business owner I want to know what your feelings are. Do you want to build the town? If this is not going to go anywhere, cut to the chase and say so.”
“I’m not comfortable with doing anything that’s not legal,” Ibbotson replied. “I don’t think tax incentives brought a lot of business to town, some, but not a lot,” he added.
Rondeel said there was positive activity happening in town that is being overshadowed by the tax incentive issues.
“We are looking at getting in a whole new seniors’ complex, our rec board has been established, and a new after school program has been developed.”
Discussion about the pros and cons of the now defunct tax incentive program was not productive, said Goode.
“Are we going to replace it? If this Cold Lake thing is palatable let’s discuss it. The numbers are far different.”
A development incentive grant introduced by Cummings at the last meeting was taken to the town’s legal counsel, who advised the town against proceeding with it.
After the meeting, Cummings said he was pleased with the outcome.
“I think it was positive and it looks like we’re moving forward.”
The date for another meeting has not yet been established.