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Downtown business owners could see levy increase

Business owners in downtown Grande Prairie could soon see an increase in their tax rates. City Assessment and Taxation Manager Scott Smith says the tax rate is going up because of higher vacancies and rental rates downtown and the Downtown Association asking for more money.

“They’re increasing their budget and we have to generate more funds so the rate is going from, I think, 1.8 per cent to 1.87 per cent… if their assessment stayed the same.”

The Downtown Association’s budget went up from $356,597 in 2018 to $360,263 this year. All business owners have to pay a tax to the group in order for the association to pay for things like promotions, special events, beautification, administration costs and salaries.

The budget was approved by Grande Prairie city council on March 11, 2019 and now all the businesses will contribute to it through their taxes. Smith says a number of factors are looked at when calculating how much each one will pay.

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“It’s based on size and the type of rent that they would pay and then it’s divided up based on the assessment. We apply a tax rate to the assessment and then each business downtown would pay a portion of the tax.”

All business owners who are affected by the changes have been notified by letter. The changes will still need to be approved at the next city council meeting. After that, notices with the new rates should go out in May.

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