There’s growing concern about the burden of Edmonton property taxes and this time, complaints are coming from the business community.
“I’m so strongly opposed to putting any money to work here in Edmonton because you can’t make it work,” said Philip Starkman with Ben Starkman Realty.
READ MORE: 2018 Edmonton tax increase set at 3.5%
The company has been involved in development for about two decades. But in the last couple of years, the tax numbers stopped making sense to Starkman.
He provided examples of how property taxes have jumped for two of the company’s west Edmonton properties.
“Some days I wonder: ‘Do I want to keep my doors opened or closed?'”
Starkman has absorbed some of the tax hikes but costs have been passed along to tenants through rent increases.
Graphics by Tonia Gloweski
Dr. Karima Merali has operated her business at Hampton Landing for nearly six years.
“I feel like there’s other cities much more business-friendly than Edmonton,” Merali told Global News, between seeing patients at her clinic.
She added her landlord “has been really good” with her discontent directed to city hall.
“We’re all frustrated because it just keeps going up… When does it stop?”
“When you don’t have a healthy business community, it should matter to everybody.”
Councillor Mike Nickel brought up the issue recently when the city gave the green light on the 2018 tax bill.
He calls the commercial property tax burden “the Edmonton disadvantage,” saying the city is not competitive with the region or even Calgary.
“The best thing we can do is to cut the red tape, deregulate and hold the line, if not lower taxes where we can.”
Later this year, council will start debate on the next budget and a new group called Prosperity Edmonton hopes the politicians hear the concerns of business.
A letter, obtained by Global News, has been sent to the mayor and councillors outlining the groups concerns.
“This is a critical moment in Edmonton because our business community is struggling for many reasons — one of which is the heavy property tax burden that has grown due to the city’s significant spending increases,” the letter reads.
It suggests tax hikes have “affected Edmonton’s competitiveness, small business confidence, attractiveness in national site selection, and overall employment.”
Back at her clinic, Dr. Merali remains busy helping her clients deal with their pain. In the background, her financial pain is a constant irritant.
Watch below: A new lobby group is expressing concern about the effect of Edmonton’s tax rate on business. Vinesh Pratap filed this report on June 12, 2018.