Moosomin town council is considering offering a tax incentive to encourage new businesses to locate in town, and existing businesses to expand.
Councillors Ron Fisk and Jason Miller co-chair the Economic Development Committee, and took a proposal to council Wednesday to forgive taxes for one year for new buildings and additions built by businesses.
“When we took a look around, it seemed that all the towns had some sort of incentive to attract new businesses,” explains Fisk.
“If we want to increase our tax base we know that we have to have new businesses come to town. With the tax incentive, if council approves it, it’s just that little extra that says welcome to Moosomin.”
At Wednesday’s meeting, Fisk told councillors that the economic development committee is working well so far.
“I think it’s going to work really well,” he said. “There are lots of ideas coming forward.“
He said the proposed tax incentive would be forgiveness of taxes for one year on new commercial construction and additions with a building permit value of at least $150,000.
“If you have a new family coming to town and they want to set up a new business, if you think of the cost of construction, stocking a new store or whatever it happens to be, the cost can be high.
“We want to help them be successful by forgiving them the first year of tax. It won’t cost the town anything, but would just delay the start of collecting taxes.
“I know we’ll have at least one that says ‘no one did anything for me, why should we do anything for anyone else?’
“But that’s not how our community works. This is 2017 and we’re a new council. If they don’t like the idea of helping, and they didn’t get any help, maybe they should look back at who was on council at the time and ask them why they didn’t give them a chance to help them out?”
Councillor Murray Gray asked about recent new businesses. “How are we going to deal with the hotels and others who have put millions into our community in the last five years?” he asked at the meeting.
“Any new program, whether it’s federal, provincial, or municipal, has a start date,” said Fisk.
“You don’t make a new program retroactive.”
Councillor Garry Towler said he doesn’t like the incentive program on principle, but he likes the $150,000 limit. “What I do like is the $150,000 value before they could apply to it,” he said at the meeting. “I could get behind it because of that.”
Mayor Larry Tomlinson pointed out that the RM of Moosomin has a three-year tax incentive program now.
Councillor Jason Miller said he believes the town should have a tax incentive program to better co-ordinate policies with the RM.
“We should have some continuity if we’re going to be working together,” he said at the meeting.
He pointed out that the tax incentive plan was designed to be easy to administer—rather than a percentage of taxes forgiven over a number of years, all taxes would be cancelled on a new building or on the value of an addition in the first year.
Councillor Garry Towler said that, when the town offered dollar lots to spur development on Cook Road and Heritage Place, the promotion took a while to get going, but then spurred development.
“With the dollar lots, it took a long time,” he said at the meeting. “We were giving something away just about for free and it took a while for people to get into that. Then we paved and had the lots serviced, and they went, just like that, and now we’re reaping the benefits from it.”
Councillor Jason Miller said he has been in contact with an industrial company looking at locating in another community, but which is keeping its options open with respect to Moosomin. “It’s a twofold approach we’re taking,” he said. “We’re looking to show them how it’s more beneficial to do business in Saskatchewan than Manitoba.”
Councillor Ron Fisk said that Mark O’Rourke of MNP was very helpful in coming up with the information to compare Saskatchewan and Manitoba business costs.
After lengthy discussion, the decision was tabled to the Feb. 15 meeting when all council members can be present.
Economic development committee
Moosomin town council established an economic development committee at Wednesday’s council meeting.
The committee will be co-chaired by Councillors Ron Fisk and Jason Miller, and will include members Roman Chernykh, Bill Thorn, and Kevin Weedmark, along with town of Moosomin CAO Paul Listrom, town employee Catherine Jaenen, and RM of Moosomin administrator Kendra Lawrence.