The Investment Incentive Program is a business tax break that should be taken advantage of by more people, says Mayor Don McCormick.
The City is in the process of renewing the program, begun in 2012, for another four years.
In a nutshell, the program offers tax relief on commercial property improvements. So if you have a commercial property valued at $400,000 and your improvements increase the value to $500,000 your taxes on the additional value are forgiven for three years.
“When we put it in place in 2012, it was our first run at it,” McCormick said. “We put together our best guess as to what would work and we have made some improvements to it. But it’s a program that has really been under the radar. Only five businesses took advantage of it the last go round. That means a lot of people didn’t know about it.
Those five businesses, with improvements valued at $1.3 million saved about $20,000 in property taxes over three years.
Improvements to the program include the elimination of a minimum construction value. It used to be $50,000, now there is no lower limit.
“There are low dollar, high value improvements,” McCormick said.
Second, the new program will allow mixed use commercial and residential properties to be eligible. That is a growing trend in commercial building, he said. In fact there are two such buildings approved for Deer Park Avenue.
The third adjustment to the program is that the exemption for brownfield properties, such as former service stations, is now 100 per cent.
New commercial construction is eligible, as well as improvements to existing properties.