New tax angers de­vel­oper

Strat­ford looks to pay for new sewage sys­tem with one-time fee

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY NIGEL ARM­STRONG THE GUARDIAN

Strat­ford is go­ing ahead with a bold new tax, but a de­vel­oper in the town said it is killing growth.

The monthly coun­cil meet­ing Wed­nes­day saw Strat­ford adopt an ex­pan­sion to an ex­ist­ing one­time tax aimed at pay­ing for new wa­ter and sewer projects.

“It’s an is­sue of fair­ness,” said Mayor David Dun­phy, who re­viewed the back­ground of the tax at the meet­ing.

A few years ago, be­fore he be­came mayor, Strat­ford brought in a spe­cial wa­ter and sewer tax that was ap­plied just once to newly de­vel­oped lots. In to­tal, it amounted to $1,500 per lot.

That was paid up­front by the land de­vel­oper to get per­mits to pro­ceed and passed on down the line to likely be ab­sorbed into the to­tal cost for the even­tual res­i­dent. It was the same amount whether for a sin­gle-fam­ily lot or a multi-unit lot.

Newly ap­proved by Strat­ford coun­cil Wed­nes­day, to take ef­fect next year, is a re­quire­ment for a de­vel­oper to now pay the wa­ter and sewer cap­i­tal tax per apart­ment unit, rather than per build­ing lot.

“They have many more wa­ter and sewer de­mands than a sin­gle-fam­ily home,” said Dun­phy. “It’s more stress on our sys­tem.”

Dun­phy said the town is fac­ing a huge ex­pense in the next two to four years to pay for a whole new sewage treat­ment sys­tem, what­ever that may be.

No other place on P.E.I. has such a tax, said an irate Don Hickox of Kel-Mac land de­vel­op­ers.

He ripped into coun­cil dur­ing the pub­lic in­put stage of the meet­ing.

“This coun­cil came up with a plan that will de­stroy any po­ten­tial for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

Hickox said be­cause of this tax, con­trac­tors have walked away from land pre­pared for de­vel­op­ment by his com­pany. He also said con­trac­tors are telling him they have no in­ten­tion of do­ing busi­ness in Strat­ford “un­less there is a change in the an­tide­vel­op­ment poli­cies of the town.”

His com­pany is now go­ing to do the same, he warned.

“We will have to walk away and leave de­vel­op­ment for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions or un­til a prode­vel­op­ment coun­cil with eco­nomic com­mon sense is formed.”

He used an ex­am­ple of land Kel-Mac wanted to de­velop near Strat­ford town hall — 19 acres for 27 sin­gle-home lots, one triplex and seven apart­ment lots.

“This new pro­posed wa­ter and sewer tax comes to a stag­ger­ing $300,000,” said Hickox.

A de­vel­oper can’t pass that on to builders be­cause they will just go else­where, like the Char­lot­te­town area of Winsloe which does not have that ex­tra cost, he said.

Strat­ford Coun. Steve Og­den asked that the is­sue be de­layed to see if other ways of pay­ing for big projects could be found, like through wa­ter rates, but coun­cil voted that down.

Og­den was the only one to vote against the tax ex­pan­sion.

Hickox

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