July 23, 2024

Barrhead County gives $17K in property tax incentives

More county businesses are taking advantage of the Non-Residential Tax Incentive Bylaw

BARRHEAD – Several County of Barrhead residents received a break on their 2023 property taxes, taking advantage of the municipality’s Non-Residential Tax Incentive Bylaw.

Councillors unanimously put their rubber stamp cancelling portions of nine tax rolls for $17,413.99.

In June 2021, the council passed the bylaw, which would see county business owners’ non-residential property tax reduced on a graduating scale based on the amount they expand or improve their operations. Council enacted the bylaw to increase economic activity and expand its tax base.

A business must make $20,000 of assessed value improvements to qualify for a tax reduction under the bylaw.

In an April 2022 interview with the Barrhead Leader, one of GFR Pharma’s principal owners, Brett Hodson, admitted the bylaw was one of several factors that helped the company decide to purchase two lots at the county’s Kiel Industrial Park. GFR Pharma owns GFR Ingredients, a producer and supplier of plant-based proteins. They bought the lots to expand its Barrhead facility at the end of 49 Avenue.

County manager Debbie Oyarzun said even though they have a bylaw granting the reductions, under the Municipal Government Act, the council is the only one with the authority to waive, cancel or reduce property tax bills.

She added in the first year of the bylaw, 2022, council cancelled $577.86 in property tax on one account. 

“While [the $17,413.99] isn’t a massive amount, it is providing a bit of an advantage when they enhance or increase their assessed value,” Oyarzun said.

Reeve Doug Drozd said the only question is whether a tax roll and a business conform to the bylaw; if they do, the council approving the cancellation is just a formality.

Municipal emergency management plan

Councillors also approved amendments to the municipality’s emergency management plan.

Oyarzun called the amendments a housekeeping item, saying that council, through the Emergency Advisory Committee consisting of the entire council, must review the plan annually, which they did at their Nov. 23 council of the whole meeting.

“The plan lays out how we can mitigate risk, be prepared, respond to hazards and recover,” she explained. “The objective being to save lives, reduce overall suffering, protect property and the environment and to reduce the economic impact of a disaster.”

Oyarzun added the plan does not replace existing first responder procedures.

She also noted that the plan is also audited by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency (AEMA).

Provincial recycling program

Councillors also directed administration staff to pre-register with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA) for the Extended Producer Recycling (EPR) program to indicate the municipality’s interest in the program. 

EPR is an initiative by the province intended to shift the cost of recycling programs off residents and municipalities and onto the producers who make those items.

Oyarzun explained the ARMA will roll out the EPR program in phases, with the first phase launching in April 2025, saying it is unlikely the municipality will be ready to take advantage of the program by that date.

Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com

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