Moosomin town council Business incentives proposed

April 2, 2013 7:55 am
Kevin Weedmark

Two business owners attended Moosomin Town Council's meeting on Wednesday to suggest the town work on a package of incentives for new businesses.

Celebration Ford owner Tyler Thorn and Kassie's Jewelry owner Ross Shaw made a presentation to council.

"The reason we're here is we've had some interest at Eastgate (Business Park)," said Thorn, "and one question we get is, is there any incentive from the town-whether it's a tax concession or anything else. A lot of towns and cities have incentive programs to attract new businesses, so it's something people always ask."

Mayor Larry Tomlinson said he wondered if owners of existing businesses would be upset if new businesses were given a tax break. "My concern would be people who didn't get the incentive," he said.

But Thorn said he had talked to several business owners about the idea, and all were supportive of incentives for new businesses.

"Whether it's a tax break or whatever, the general consensus we've got so far is that a lot of businesses would support an incentive that would attract new businesses. Some of the people I've talked to have recently invested a lot in their own business, and they said they wouldn't have a problem with a program like this if we are able to attract a few new businesses and help make Moosomin a bit more of a retail, commercial hub."

Thorn said he and Shaw would be happy to work with the Chamber of Commerce and spearhead a committee to work with both the business community and council.

"Ross and I would take the lead on that with the business community and see what the options are, provided there is some interest from council," he said. "For sure we would want to have the chamber involved, and council."

Thorn said the incentives he is talking about would be for new businesses coming to town, and would not apply to his new location being built on the highway.

"I don't expect and I wouldn't consider any sort of tax breaks for Celebration Ford," he said.

Shaw pointed out that larger communities in the region, including Estevan and Melville, have incentive programs for new businesses.

Thorn said Estevan's incentive package is fairly extensive, with different incentives for new businesses and new buildings, and even for renovations.

Thorn said the dollar value of a tax break isn't as important as the fact that some sort of incentive shows that new businesses are welcome in a community.

"There are different types of incentives, and tax incentives are just the easiest. When you can go to an oil company I don't think property tax is going to be make or break, but if somebody's looking here, and it's either going to be Moosomin or Virden, and we say look if you open in Moosomin you can get a tax break for a year or two, it might make the difference."

He pointed out that, if an incentive was restricted to new businesses, it wouldn't cost taxpayers anything, it would simply delay the taxation of new businesses that might not otherwise exist.

Some communities phase in taxes for new businesses over five years, with no taxes payable the first year, then 20, 40, 60, and 80 per cent of the tax bill due in each of the next four years.

"It's an investment in the future," Thorn said. "If you attract a new business and give them a tax break for a few years, then you have that business as part of your community for the long term, paying taxes, employing people. It's not an expense to the taxpayer. The more businesses we have, the more jobs, the bigger the tax base."

Shaw said he believes now is the time for council to try to attract new businesses.

"I feel it's such an opportune time," he said. "Within the next five years, there's the potential for a lot of new business in the area, and the question is whether they will be locating in Moosomin or not. We should be doing everything we can to encourage them to locate here.

"I think the return to the town is fairly quick with something like this."