By Treena Mielke
At least one Rimbey businessman is not happy with a proposed grant program designed to replace tax incentives chopped earlier this year.
Stan Cummings, who owns the Best Western Rimstone Ridge Hotel, said he will continue to negotiate with town representatives in an effort to come up with a plan that will give him a better tax break than the one proposed.
Cummings has not yet paid his 2011 taxes of $54,800 in the hopes the bill can be reduced.
“I’m still sitting on the fence on that one,” he said.
Cummings, who received a $30,000 rebate in 2010 under the previous tax rebate program and would benefit by that much this year if the program were in place, will be eligible to receive only $10,000 this year under the proposed new program.
Under the previous program, he would be eligible for a refund for another three years.
The new proposed program is a one-time grant of up to $10,000 based on improvements resulting in an increased assessment value.
Cummings, who was among businessmen who met with council Sept. 8, doesn’t believe it to be fair that he spends approximately $600,000 yearly in Rimbey through staff wages and supplies, and is not granted any compensation.
“My point is that that wouldn’t have happened (if I wouldn’t have built here) if I hadn’t had tax incentives,” he said. “I’m appealing to council to reconsider what they have done to our business.”
Rhonda Tarney from the Rimbey Business Association admitted economic trends influence growth to some degree, but she believes the tax incentive program played a major role in development in Rimbey. She said the town’s latest proposal does not come close to offering what the financial benefits the previous incentives did.
“You are only giving lip service to it,’ she said.
Coun. Joe Anglin agreed that the changes resulted in higher taxes for some residents.
“The removal of the tax incentive affected some negatively. But no matter how we change it, someone is going to say that didn’t work for me.”
Assistant CAO Ryan Maier said under the proposed business development incentive grant program a business that completes renovations resulting in a $200,000 increase in the assessed value of his business would receive a $2,000 rebate.
Under the previous tax incentive program, a business owner completing the same renovations would receive only $1,499.50. However, the rebate would continue for five years.
Cummings is hopeful the town would consider grandfathering businesses that benefited from the previous tax incentive program. However, Mayor Sheldon Ibbotson said that is not an option being considered.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” he said.
Under the previous program tax incentives were given to developers who subdivided existing lots, renovated commercial buildings, built new commercial buildings, rental multi-family residential homes, or demolished an older building to erect a new building in the core area of town.
The incentives reduced the residential portion of the municipal tax by 85 per cent, and an 88-per-cent municipal tax rebate was realized on the commercial portion.
Council was to vote on the proposed business development incentive grant program at its meeting Sept. 12.
“This is not meant to be a replica of the old system,” he said. “This is about moving forward.”