BIG TAX AT­TACKS

Mayor Bow­man says he’ll cut biz levy Chal­lenger Wood­stock vows to ease prop­erty tax

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - JOYANNE PURSAGA jpur­saga@post­media.com Twit­ter: @pur­sagaw­pg­sun

Brian Bow­man says he’d con­tinue to re­duce Win­nipeg’s busi­ness tax at the cur­rent pace and seek ways to cut red tape, if re-elected.

The in­cum­bent may­oral can­di­date of­fi­cially promised to “phase out” the tax but didn’t of­fer a tar­get date to ac­tu­ally elim­i­nate the levy. In­stead, Bow­man said he’ll con­tinue to re­duce the busi­ness tax grad­u­ally, in each of the next four years, at a rate sim­i­lar to its de­cline since 2014.

This year’s city bud­get notes the busi­ness tax rate fell from 5.70% in 2014 to 5.14% in 2018.

“We’ve tried to es­sen­tially flat-line rev­enues that are com­ing in from our busi­ness tax and so the rate has been re­duced each year, based on the grow­ing tax base of busi­nesses,” said Bow­man. “What we’re try­ing to do is es­sen­tially freeze the dollars (raised) and have that rate go down.”

Bow­man also promised to have city of­fi­cials and busi­ness own­ers jointly de­velop a Top 10 list of outdated by­laws and reg­u­la­tions. He said that dis­cus­sion would spark an ad­min­is­tra­tive re­port that sug­gests which ones coun­cil should up­date or elim­i­nate.

“My ob­jec­tive is to work to re­spond to those re­quests,” said Bow­man.

The in­cum­bent can­di­date said he’d also hold an­nual small busi­ness sum­mits, im­prove busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tions on city road re­pairs and add eco­nomic devel­op­ment prin­ci­ples to the city’s of­fi­cial plan­ning doc­u­ment, Our Win­nipeg.

Loren Remil­lard, pres­i­dent of the Win­nipeg Cham­ber of Com­merce, said he’s pleased to see a com­mit­ment to de­crease the busi­ness tax.

“Win­nipeg has the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the only ur­ban cen­tre left in Canada with a mu­nic­i­pal busi­ness tax and, un­for­tu­nately, it’s very dif­fi­cult for busi­ness peo­ple to see what ex­actly that tax is pro­vid­ing to them, in terms of ser­vices that will help their busi­nesses,” said Remil­lard.

The cham­ber leader said the tax presents a po­ten­tial de­ter­rent to at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing busi­nesses in Win­nipeg, since com­pa­nies can move to cities that don’t charge one.

“Busi­nesses lo­cate here by choice and they can leave by choice,” said Remil­lard.

Else­where on the cam­paign trail, may­oral can­di­date Don Wood­stock an­nounced he ex­pects to de­liver a prop­erty tax freeze for four years and elim­i­nate growth fees, if he’s elected.

Wood­stock said he’d achieve that by grow­ing the tax base through ser­vices that help im­mi­grants stay in Win­nipeg and im­pos­ing cost-cut­ting mea­sures on civic de­part­ments.

“I be­lieve if we freeze (prop­erty taxes), it forces ev­ery­body to go and be more ef­fi­cient,” said Wood­stock.

The can­di­date said he’d also like to see school taxes taken off prop­erty tax bills and shifted to a direct provin­cial process in­stead.

Bradley Gross, an Old Kil­do­nan coun­cil can­di­date who sup­ports that call, said he be­lieves the cur­rent school tax method puts too much onus on home­own­ers.

“Ev­ery­body that I’ve talked to has said school taxes are a big bur­den on their house,” said Gross. “If I own five prop­er­ties, I have to pay five school taxes, whether I have kids or not. But renters could have kids in school and not pay any­thing.”

Wood­stock said he’d also freeze the busi­ness tax by 2020.

Win­nipeg­gers will elect their next mayor on Oct. 24.

“What we’re try­ing to do is es­sen­tially freeze the dollars (raised) and have that rate go down.” Brian Bow­man “I be­lieve if we freeze (prop­erty taxes), it forces ev­ery­body to go and be more ef­fi­cient.” Don Wood­stock

JOYANNE PURSAGA/WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES SUP­PLIED PHOTO

KEVIN KING/WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

Mayor Brian Bow­man says he’ll keep look­ing for ways to re­duced Win­nipeg’s busi­ness tax.

JOYANNE PURSAGA/WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

May­oral can­di­date Don Wood­stock has a plan for a four-year prop­erty tax freeze in the city.

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