In 2019 the Alberta gov’t introduced Bill 7, the Municipal Government (Property Tax Incentives) Amendment Act, gives municipalities new powers to pass bylaws to provide tax exemptions, reductions and deferrals. In April of 2019 the City of Medicine Hat introduced a bylaw in April that incorporated these new powers. This bill forced our hand to compete with other Alberta cities. It is a great way to get development done and an especially huge incentive to develop brown land. This also assists in the Waterfront District when companies are looking to build there. The cost doesn’t excite me much, but if we don’t do it while other cities are then we will lose out on growth and redevelopment that the other cities will enjoy.
The MGA has been amended so that municipalities can be innovative and flexible with our greenfield and brownfield incentives. Tax abatement is also available to some extent. Regardless, an appropriate matrix of support needs to be developed commensurate with spending.
Honestly in order to track businesses to Medicine Hat we just need to offer them fair conversations without all the red tape. I am an existing business owner and sometimes it is beyond frustrating trying to get an answer. The employees need to focus on customer service understanding that the end goal is to get people to stay so every interaction is an opportunity.
Again, we need to expand our population to allow for us to expand our income pool by adding residents vs increasing taxes. Doing this would allow us to begin reducing the 2.31% tax gap which is currently putting more pressure on our local businesses. Reducing this would make us more attractive to investments, and new industries. I would look at a “support local” permitting and grant program for the next 3 years to spur economic investment and recovery. This program would offer decreased permit costs for Hatters looking to start or continue operating the local businesses. During this time, I would also look to develop a one-time start up grant to help support local entrepreneurial growth, partnered with the previously mentioned closing of the tax gap, would encourage, and promote entrepreneurial investment in the Hat.
So this question really bothers me. I come this to cell phone companies that if you are a new customer we’ll give you the farm, if your an existing customer then you get nothing. You have small businesses that have been in town for over 40 years and have worked hard to keep a float. So now we raise taxes to bring in business and nothing for the little guy. How many times have we given away the farm and it doesn’t work out and the tax payers are on the hook.
Reducing taxation, red tape, planning and building costs, offsite levies, and complexity when dealing with the City, are all tools to attract and retain businesses. Local small business creates more than 80% of all jobs.