Town council ultimately voted to deny a request from Canalta Hotel Ponoka for a 10 per cent reduction in its property taxes during its July 14 regular meeting, although not everyone was happy about it.
As a follow up to the discussion at the last council meeting, general manager of corporate services Sandra Lund answered some of council’s questions regarding the requested tax break from Canalta Hotel Ponoka.
Canalta had claimed other municipalities had given them a tax break.
“Administration did follow up with the other towns and we found some interesting information,” said Lund.
Administration recommended the request be denied, as any tax exemption would result in either higher taxes for other rate payers or decreased service levels.
Canalta had stated they received a reduction in property taxes for properties located in Brooks, Drayton Valley and Kindersley, Sask., however, after consulting with those municipalities, the town discovered all tax breaks received by Canalta were planned tax breaks by those municipalities, and not exclusive to Canalta.
The City of Brooks gave all commercial and industrial properties a five per cent tax break; Drayton Valley provided a five per cent tax reduction for early payment, and Kindersley had an overall tax reduction of 9.1 per cent.
A motion to maintain current taxation rates and timelines, with no reductions based on current economic situations, was carried, although Mayor Rick Bonnett was opposed.
“You’re making a big mistake with our businesses,” said Bonnett after the vote.
As of July 2, Canalta Ponoka applied for the TIPP deferral program. Their monthly tax payments were deferred for three months and their remaining payments have been adjusted to have their taxes paid in full by Dec. 31, 2020.
Diving board replacement
Town council approved the transfer of $24,000 from the joint Town and County Recreation Facilities Reserve for a new diving board at the Aquaplex.
The purpose of the reserve is for capital projects such as equipment replacement or repairs.
A recent inspection showed the current diving board is unsafe for use due to general age and condition and it was removed.
Bonnett questioned the timing of spending the amount of money on a recreation project.
“We know that recreation is always a revenue loser. It’s not a thing to do to make us money, but it’s something we put out for our public, but at the same point in time, under the restrictions and everything we’re going through, is it really worth having it open?” said Bonnett.
“We’re talking about not giving any businesses a break, but we’re going to spend some money on recreation?”
Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development, answered that ultimately it was council’s decision, and that there has been a real demand for quality of life improvements and the project is possible under the town’s current budget.
“People have been requesting these types of facilities and activities for quite some time,” said Schmidt.
“If I was scared of COVID, I’m not going to no stinkin’ pool, let me tell you that,” said Bonnett.
The motion to support the transfer of funds for a new diving board was carried.