District works on the revitalization tax exemption bylaw

Hopes to encourage business investment and add to job creation

District of Houston file photo

Work continues on a bylaw that would provide tax exemptions based on the value of improvements made by light and major industries to their properties within the District of Houston’s boundaries.

Thirteen light industries and four major industries stand to benefit by the bylaw, planning for which began last year.

It would essentially mirror the intent behind existing tax exemptions available to other commercial enterprises within the District.

As such it would meet the District’s longstanding goal of encouraging and stimulating business investment, generally increase the value of assessments subject to taxation and add to job creation. It would apply only to municipal assessments and not include taxation for schools or other purposes.

“Revitalization tax exemptions are a tool councils may use to encourage various types of revitalization to achieve a range of environmental, economic or social objectives,” District corporate services director Duncan Malkinson outlined in a briefing document considered by council at its Nov. 17 meeting.

And although an exemption based on improvements means the District would lose revenue temporarily, it would be regarded not as lost revenue, just revenue delayed for however many years council decided to provide the exemption.

As set out in the proposed bylaw, the exemption would be for five years from 100 per cent in the first year decreasing in 20 per cent portions to a final 20 per cent in the fifth year.

Council gave the go ahead to continue developing the proposed bylaw in a committee of the whole session at its regular Nov. 17 meeting.

In doing so, it clarified that exemptions will be based on the increase in the total assessed value of industrial properties as a result of development and that the amount of the exemption will be limited to the difference between the increase of the base assessment year and the following year as opposed to the base year and all future years.

Council is also regarding this as a pilot program, limiting it to a five-year period for now.

And before the proposed bylaw is given first reading, it will go through a legal review to ensure it provisions and subsequent agreements are enforceable.