Tax levy up for multi-unit properties

by Phil Ambroziak

Landlords now have to dole out more dollars toward a new long-term care facility in Meadow Lake.

During the regular meeting of council held June 8, a bylaw was passed to update the existing long-term care facility tax levy. The legislation now calls for $125 per single-family home as well as $125 per unit charge for multi-residential buildings. When the levy was introduced in 2013, both homeowners and landlords paid $75 per building while a $75 per unit charge was introduced to landlords last year.

“These funds are placed in a reserve account and will be used for the city’s portion of the local share of the Northland Pioneers Lodge replacement project,” noted a recommendation prepared by city manager Diana Burton. “It is expected, at some point during construction, the city will have to take out a loan for part of its share. The discussion has been the levy would remain in place until that loan is paid off.”

While the new lodge is something that’s been long-anticipated for many in the community, not everyone believes the end justifies the means. According to landlord Roger Epp, the city’s method of collecting funds for the project remains unfair.

“I’m concerned residential property owners are being asked to carry the load in terms of what money is being set aside for the new lodge while businesses don’t have to pay a thing,” Epp remarked, adding he believes certain members of council have a conflict considering some own businesses.

According to the city, the rationale for the levy was as a per family charge. Since its inception, the levy has generated more than $334,000 including interest while the city’s portion toward the project is expected to be around $4 million.

Suites questioned
During last week’s meeting, councillor Merlin Seymour brought up the issue of basement suites. It was a concern he raised last year when he wondered why the city wouldn’t capitalize on homeowners with rental units located within their actual houses.

“One thing that still concerns me is this $125 per unit for each duplex and such, but what about basement suites?” Seymour asked. “How do we at least enforce the legal basement suites (those registered with the city) as a secondary premises within a residential property?”

Vidal said this is an issue that’s been discussed on a number of occasions and one he described as being a challenge.

“We just don’t have the ability to identify them,” he said.

Councillor Curtis Paylor, however, said those reported via assessment can be identified, but the mayor responded by informing council that suites were not included in the current bylaw. This is something Epp isn’t happy about.

“We need to see fiscal management in this city,” he said. “Taxes have gone up almost 40 per cent in the last six years.”

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