Businesses will get tax break to develop vacant lots

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Two weeks after getting a gentle nudge from local businessman Tom Hammond, Morinville Town Council unanimously approved a new policy that will give non-residential property owners a little tax break for developing their properties. Hammond, who is building the new Morinville Auto Body shop on 100 Street, approached Council June 12 asking them to consider implementing the tax incentive they had a few years ago. Administration was directed to return two weeks later with something for Council to look at.

The new policy will give non-residential property owners a 50 per cent reduction in the municipal tax portion of their tax bill if they develop their vacant properties or redevelop existing properties with buildings on it. Substantial retrofits like Morinville’s recent Town Hall project would also qualify for the new tax incentive program if conducted by businesses in the community; however, cosmetic renovations would not fit the new program.

Morinville’s Chief Financial Officer, Andy Isbister, said the reduction would be based on the taxes due when the development project begins and monies would not be forgiven until the occupancy permits for the development are issued to the property owner.

The new policy would see non-residential property owners saving approximately $325.55 for each $100,000 in assessed value. There would be no tax reduction to the school requisition portion of the municipal tax bill, school fees being a provincial tax requisition.

The Town of Morinville’s former Tax Incentive Policy was introduced in 2003, updated in 2004, and ultimately rescinded in 2007. Initially put in place as a vehicle to drive economic development in Morinville, it was cancelled due to a lack of property owners taking the Town up on the offer.

However, administration felt the new policy could drive economic development on vacant non-residential lots. The Town of Morinville currently has a mil rate of 19.7 for vacant non-residential property and a mil rate of 6.5 for developed non-residential lands. It is hoped the new tax incentive will drive economic development a little quicker.

With the policy now passed, an application form will be developed for those wishing to take advantage of the development incentive. The new policy is set to expire in 2015.

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