What do you think about the current Vacancy Property Tax Rebate Program?

Article by Sue Dickens, Trent Hills NNN

 “Providing owners with a vacancy tax rebate gives them no incentive to try and maintain the units,” said Adrianne Towns, owner of the Village Paint and Paper and the President of the Campbellford Business Improvement Association recently. She had been asked for her response to a possible overhaul of the current Vacant Unit Property Tax rebate program.

“I think I can speak for the board, we support the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA) position on the vacancy rebate and would like to see a change to the Municipal Act 364 (Vacant Unit Rebate) providing business owners with a rebate for their vacant properties gives them no incentive to try and rent the units,” said Adrianne. “This results in no upkeep of the spaces and a deteriorated downtown landscape.”

“Our rural downtowns are struggling to remain vibrant and attractive to new businesses and new customers alike. As a building owner and a community member, I believe it is my responsibility to add to the beauty of the downtown core. In our downtown, most of the vacant storefronts are in buildings that belong to owners who live hours away and are not interested in downtown beautification or creating a vibrant thriving community.”

Adrianne Towns, owner of the Village Paint and Paper and the President of the Campbellford Business Improvement Association

She noted as well, “Giving them a rebate is counterproductive to the efforts to beautify and expand the rural downtown.”

“The (Northumberland) County and member municipalities are reviewing the implications of eliminating the Property Tax Rebate Program for Vacant Units as part of efforts to better encourage the use of such properties for the benefit of the community,” says County Finance Director and Treasurer Glenn Dees. “We are seeking input from business owners and members of the general public about their experience and thoughts related to this program in order to inform a final decision.”

Currently, building owners can apply for an annual property tax rebate of 35 percent for vacant industrial space and 30 percent for vacant commercial space.

Northumberland County is hosting a Public Information Centre to seek feedback about the current Vacant Unit Property Tax Rebate program.

The public event is happening, Wednesday, March 21 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Northumberland County building, 555 Courthouse Road, Cobourg.

People are invited to share their thoughts about the tax rebate program for vacant commercial and industrial properties.

The cost and number of rebates by each municipality is summarized below. These numbers also appear on the Northumberland County website.

TAX REBATES:

Cobourg had the largest tax rebate in 2016 at $324,969.01; Port Hope was next with a tax rebate to commercial and industrial building owners in 2016 of 84,893.66. Cramahe’s tax rebate was: $20,048.80; Brighton’s was $8,288.61; Trent Hills was near the bottom of the list with a tax rebate of $6,082.67.

There will be a 20-minute presentation at 5:30 p.m. by the County treasurer about the background on this program and the reasons for reconsideration of the Program.

The public will be able to connect directly with experts and treasurers from various local municipalities and the County.

For those unable to attend the Public Information Centre, feedback may be provided through an online survey, which was made available as of March 7 at www.NorthumberlandCounty.ca/VacancyRebate

The survey period will close March 30.