Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Regina's Own Oprah Moments

Good morning Regina!!

"YOU get a tax break!" "YOU get a tax break!" and "YOU get a tax break!" - as comical as it sounds, this seems to be the attitude of the City of Regina in years of late. Yesterday, at the Finance and Administration Committee Meeting, this issue was brought up yet again.This does raise some serious questions. Here are but a few:

1) Are they being fairly distributed?

2) What evaluation does the City use to determine which businesses get how much of a tax break?

3) How do we, as a municipality, compare to other centres in Canada? North America?

4) Do we even need tax incentives, such as a multi-year property tax abatement, to entice businesses to locate in Regina?

I will post more about this later, but these are certainly questions that not only should be asked, but deserve to be answered. Given that we are currently in a boom period, we should be minimizing the kinds of incentives we offer, so that only those businesses that are truly able to maximize their community investment in Regina are given the breaks they deserve. We must consider whether or not a property tax break is going to be the deciding factor for multi-million dollar businesses to set up shop in Regina. My gut feeling is absolutely not, and given that we have a City Council and City Administration that continue to complain about "only having limited sources of revenue", a reasonable person would expect that they, too, would want to limit the amount of tax breaks to corporations.

One of the major issues with giving tax breaks to these companies, for-profit or not, is the fact that that lost revenue has to be made up elsewhere. When you consider the average assessment on a commercial building is much higher than a residence, it could take multiple residences just to make up for one corporate tax break provided. And, well, then there is the question of ethics in determining just which businesses/non-profits/etc. get those tax breaks. Are these being fairly distributed to similar organizations, and if not, why not? Are those that are currently provided tax breaks, still deserving of those tax breaks, or could they "survive" without them?

This and more on the next blog post!

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