By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A $60,000 tax break offered to Champion back in 2009 as an incentive to clear the air on its odour problem was removed from the table by Morinville Town Council Tuesday night. Council voted unanimously to a motion made by Councillor Lisa Holmes to withdraw the offer of a $15,000 per annum tax break over a four-year period.
Council had previously put the tax break on hold after a $500,000 plasma injector system failed to meet its goal of reducing the plant’s odour back in the summer of 2010.
In discussing the motion, Councillor Paul Krauskopf said he was not impressed with Champion’s latest press release on its progress, issued at the end of October. “As I read it, the first few paragraphs were the same thing we heard in August,” the councillor said. “As the press release went on I realized a lot of this stuff they could have told us in August. I was put back and put off. “
Krauskopf, who had previously chastised Champion Petfoods President and CAO Frank Burdzy shortly after the 2010 election, said he understands the complexity of what the company is trying to do, but that the time had come to remove the tax break. “To leave that reward for them on the table is not appropriate at this time,” he said.
Councillor Gordon Boddez, although supportive of the motion, was more understanding of Champion’s plight. The councillor said he was not certain Champion knew in August that they would need another extension at the end of the projected period. “I’m not sure they did know at that time,” he said. “We must understand this is not a simple thing they are doing. I think they are showing good intent and I think we have to support that intent.”
Councillor David Pattison also expressed his support for the tax break withdrawal. Pattison said since joining council he had heard many presentations and updates. “We’re looking at a business that has not produced the results our residents are looking for,” Pattison said.
Holmes, who made the motion, said although Council is the voice of the people who elected them, residents need to be doing their part by contacting Champion to complain about the odour and the progress in solving the problem. Holmes said she believed the more Champion heard from the community, the more they will be pushed to get the work completed.