The Chamber of Commerce president sought last week to lay bear the extent of the challenge facing many businesses.
Tina Cresswell said a 41 per cent commercial mill rate factor increase meant commercial tax increases of more than 60 per cent.
“In real dollars that can mean $10,000 or more,” she said during opening remarks at Wednesday’s Chamber of Commerce tax meeting at the Armoury.
Cresswell said the topic of taxes affected not only the Maple Creek business community this year, but may have far-reaching effects on the future sustainability of the town.
“While the Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization, we also speak for all local businesses, who like all of us have gone through unprecedented times of uncertainty because of the global pandemic. Even though health mandates have been lifted, we are by no means back to normal. There are still many restrictions facing our businesses and holding back growth. A chat with local contractors and manufacturers reveals disrupted supply chains, high and fluctuating cost of materials, and shipping costs that have increased exponentially. Contractors are having trouble quoting on jobs, because they don’t know what they will have to pay for materials or if they will even be able to get them. Car dealerships have almost no vehicles, new or used, to sell. Restaurants can’t get supplies they depend on.”
Cresswell said the new catch phrase in shipping was “oh yes, it’s on the water,” which means it’s in a container on board a ship somewhere, but don’t ask where, or when it will arrive.
“Even in our small coffee roasting business, we are having a hard time securing green beans. Some businesses also struggle to attract workers, which means owners and existing staff are putting in extra hours to make sure customers are served properly.
“The last thing the business community needs right now is a hefty tax increase, especially in a year where SAMA (Saskatchewan Assessment Management Agency) has already reassessed property values, mostly upwards. Many commercial assessments have gone up over 45 per cent from the last assessment. Thanks to the Saskatchewan Government’s mandate to tax commercial properties at 85 per cent of assessed value rather than 100 per cent, that 45 increase in taxable assessment has been reduced to about a 23 per cent increase over the 2020 taxation year. But add that to a 41 per cent commercial mill rate factor increase, and we see commercial tax increases of more than 60 per cent. In real dollars that can mean $10,000 or more.”
Cresswell said the Chamber had asked Duane Migowsky to ask questions submitted by local commercial rate payers. Questions that were similar were combined in an attempt to cover all concerns relating to Council’s decision to increase the commercial mill rate factor.
“Other concerns – such as SAMA’s assessments – also deserve scrutiny, but tonight we are talking about Council’s decision and its implications, not about a provincial agency’s operations,” she said. “We know there is a solution to this that will ensure Maple Creek grows and prospers, and does not lose businesses, jobs and the residential rate payers those jobs represent. Let’s work together to mitigate the mistakes made and solve this problem now, not three months or a year from now when it might be too late.”