Coun­cil ready to ex­plore new tax deal with air­port

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - PHIL TANK ptank@post­media.com twit­ter.com/think­tankSK

City hall ap­pears set to con­sider nav­i­gat­ing a new ap­proach to tax­a­tion with the Saska­toon Air­port Au­thor­ity.

City coun­cil’s gov­er­nance and pri­or­i­ties com­mit­tee on Tues­day heard the city’s ap­proach to rev­enue from the air­port dif­fers from other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“It seems that we’re a bit unique here, per­haps,” city man­ager Mur­ray Tot­land told the com­mit­tee.

The City of Saska­toon has two agree­ments with the air­port au­thor­ity, both of which ex­pire at the end of next year.

One deal ex­empts the air­port’s run­ways, taxi­ways and aprons from prop­erty tax. The other deal al­lows the air­port to pay a grant to the city based on pas­sen­ger vol­ume rather than the value of its prop­erty.

A city re­port com­pares Saska­toon with Regina and Win­nipeg. Regina just re­moved the mu­nic­i­pal ex­emp­tion for prop­erty tax on its air­port this year, while Win­nipeg levies prop­erty tax based on value on its air­port, the re­port says.

“I don’t want to pick on the air­port, but we’re treat­ing them dif­fer­ent from other groups,” Coun. Randy Donauer said.

A city re­port says the air­port paid $7.52 mil­lion in taxes over the last eight years, or an av­er­age of $939,765.50 a year us­ing the for­mula based on pas­sen­ger vol­ume. If that model were changed to prop­erty tax based on value, the air­port would have paid $10.2 mil­lion over eight years, or an av­er­age of $1.27 mil­lion a year.

That’s a dif­fer­ence of $2.68 mil­lion over the eight years, or an av­er­age of $334,630.63 per year.

Coun. Dar­ren Hill cau­tioned that if the city added to the air­port’s tax bill, the air­port would pass the ex­tra cost on to air trav­ellers.

The com­mit­tee voted to for­ward the re­port on the air­port’s tax­a­tion agree­ment to city coun­cil. Coun­cil­lors sug­gested a re­con­sid­er­a­tion of the city’s tax re­la­tion­ship with the air­port is worth ex­plor­ing in 2018 be­fore the agree­ments need to be re­newed.

This year’s re­assess­ment set the value of the air­port at nearly $144 mil­lion.

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