The executive director of the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce offered an alternative Monday in the ongoing debate around the city’s business tax ratio.
Kent Smith-Windsor suggested lowering the ratio from 1.75 to 1.59 over four years during a meeting of the city’s finance committee.
Currently, for every dollar homeowners pay in property taxes, businesses pay $1.75.
The chamber and North Saskatoon Business Association, in 2012, proposed further lowering the figure to $1.43 over 16 years. Council decided to push the matter back until the start of the 2017 revaluation cycle.
Saskatoon mayoral candidate Kelley Moore re-introduced the idea during the 2016 election campaign, expressing her commitment to lowering the ratio in an effort to encourage investment in the city.
The ratio became a wedge issue when then-candidate Charlie Clark opposed reducing the ratio, stating it would unfairly shift the tax burden to residents.
The available literature on business tax ratios is inconclusive as to how the policy impacts business choices and whether an “optimum” figure exists, according to a city administration report.
“While the literature cites that high business property taxes will discourage business development, there is no consensus on what high means,” the report says.
Among western Canadian cities, only Winnipeg has lower residential and non-residential taxes than Saskatoon, though it employs other means of taxation that Saskatoon does not.
The tax ratio topic will be up for discussion at the March 27 council meeting.