Wheatland County Council recently approved Bylaw 2021-23, which offers a municipal tax incentive to large investors, in an effort to attract more business to the county.
The bylaw was implemented on Sept. 21 and provides eligible investments with a 40 per cent exemption on municipal property tax for non-residential improvements for three years from the first fully taxable year.
Development and the subsequent implementation of the bylaw follows changes to the Municipal Government Act, a change that occurred June 2019, allowing municipalities to offer incentives to reduce, exempt, or defer the collection of property taxes for non-residential properties for up to 15-years.
According to Jamie Kramble, Economic Development Officer for Wheatland County, the changes to the Municipal Government Act bring Alberta in line with provinces such as Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
“The County anticipates a positive response from the community and developments that are eligible,” said Kramble.
To qualify for the exemption, an organization must make a minimum investment of $10 million in capital improvement or machinery and equipment. Any non-residential assessment and/or machinery and equipment must increase by $10 million from the base assessment year.
He added this ruling applies to both new builds and substantial expansions. An applicant company and its property must not be in arrears or litigation with the county and linear property is not eligible for the exemption.
According to officials with the county, Wheatland is one of the first municipalities in Alberta to implement a municipal property tax incentive, adding to the already existing reputation for competitive tax rates, low land prices, proximity to large urban centres and transportation options.
Kramble explained other municipalities within Alberta offering tax incentive bylaws include Strathcona County, the City of Medicine Hat,
“The bylaw applies to both new investments and expansions,” said General Manager of Corporate and Financial Services, Tracy Buteau. “Application and appeals processes are currently being developed by Wheatland County’s Assessment Division.”
Kramble said prior to applications from interested organizations becoming public, they are confidential and he did not specify if, or how many organizations have expressed interest in the incentive.
“The County is always excited and ready to work with all interested parties who are looking to make Wheatland County a home for themselves or their business operation,” said Kramble.
The ultimate goal, Kramble added, is for the incentive to help facilitate economic diversification of the county, increase employment opportunities and increase tax revenue in the long term.
County Reeve Amber Link said a critical outcome of the bylaw will be job creation.
“We need employment opportunities that are well paid, have prospects for career advancement and will capitalize on our long-standing, strong work ethic that built Wheatland County,” said Link.
“We need these opportunities to retain our youth. We know Wheatland County is the best place to live and work and we are making it the best place for businesses to locate and grow.”
Further information about the bylaw and the application process is available online through the County website.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times