(Allan Ryan is the President of the Stittsville Business Association. Photo: Stittsville Central)
Mayor Jim Watson, announced a proposal last week that could see small businesses receive a ten percent tax reduction towards their property taxes. Mayor Watson has asked the City to create a permanent tax sub-class for small businesses. The sub-class would effect approximately 8,000 small businesses in Ottawa being rented from commercial property owners. The amount could provide an average of up to $1,000 tax savings for these businesses and an additional $500 should the province agree to match the education tax discount. The tax reduction would have to be passed onto tenants by property owners or they face a withdrawal of their discount.
The difference in taxes (approximately 0.68%) collected would be absorbed by the ‘big box’ operations such as Costco and Walmart as well as other larger corporations. The Mayor does not want to see City residents offsetting the small business tax discount.
Allan Ryan, President of the Stittsville Business Association says of this plan, “Help from any level of government that assists our local businesses is always well received and we support that. A tax deferral initiative in place for 2021 (even if for a month or two) would have been a significant benefit for local businesses as they await the proposed tax discount program in 2022”. “Local government can’t constantly rely on other levels of government to bail out the City – local government can’t act like a business, but can act businesslike!”
“A tax deferral could mean the difference for a small business. We could pay our staff or suppliers for another month or two,” says Wesley Smith of Warmstone Family Dentistry.
Ryan further added that, “the City needs to look at its own cost deficiencies, for instance the OC Transpo cuts are just a trickle in the bucket – they could have went further with various city spending expenditures, as well as including LRT costs”.
Watson told the news conference, “With limited tools, it allows us to provide some support to these businesses who have really been through a rollercoaster ride of closing and opening for the last 12 months”.
Those properties eligible for the plan would include: restaurants, retailers, bars, daycares, sports clubs, small offices, shopping malls and hotels that are under 15,000 square feet. City staff will be consulting with local businesses later in the year to receive input.
The Mayor’s proposal will be on the agenda at the early April meeting of the City’s Finance and Economic Development Committee (FEDCO) and will be brought to full Council later in the month for approval.
Mayor Watson ended with, “he hopes the province will give the green light in time for the discount to take effect in 2022”.
Will this help the small business now when they need it most? No, several in Stittsville would have preferred a tax deferral for one more year, but are pleased to learn that the City is working on a permanent long-term plan that would see somewhat of a break on small business taxes.
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