CARROT RIVER — The Carrot River Inn won’t be getting a tax break.
Mike Livermore and Dennis Letendre, the only two councillors that didn’t have any investments in the inn, decided at the Aug. 23 council meeting that it wasn’t in the best interest of the community to give the inn a tax abatement.
In 2018, the inn paid almost $23,000 in civic taxes and more than $11,000 in provincial education taxes. The inn asked council for three items: to cap civic taxes to the same amount as the education tax, to not charge education tax for two years, and to give back $3,000 worth of interest and late fees charged this tax season.
Livermore said taxes have gone up for a lot of homeowners in town and he was approached by citizens that were concerned they’d have to pay more to make up for lost revenues if the town decided to give the hotel a tax break.
“We’re asking them to help make up money in a tax abatement from where? Their taxes going up?”
Angela Schmitt, the chair of the inn’s board, said the inn is a key part of the town’s economic development strategy, which focuses on bringing tourists to the area.
Because there were no hotel chains that were interested in building a 24-room hotel with a restaurant, more than 100 locals were asked to invest to build the $2.4 million facility. The investors were told they wouldn’t make much money; instead, they would help fulfill a community need.
Schmitt said civic taxes almost ended the project before it went off the ground. That problem was addressed by the almost $49,000 in tax incentives the town has given the inn since 2013. The inn paid no taxes in 2013 and 2014, and 75 per cent of its taxes in 2015.
“Since then, the tax burden has been overwhelming for the Carrot River Inn and things such as parking lot development, exterior enchantments have to be put on hold year after year as the project sustains itself,” Schmitt said.
The inn provides 20 to 30 jobs, all local. Schmitt also said the inn has made more events, like weddings, parties and the recent rodeo, possible.
The town also commissioned an online survey on the issue, with town administrator Kevin Trew noting the survey was non-scientific and could have been filled out by non-taxpayers.
Of 115 surveyed, 68, or 58 per cent, said a tax abatement wouldn’t be in the best interests of the town, while 47, or 41 per cent, said it would.
Trew said it was unlikely the issue would be reconsidered by council. He emphasized that the decision made was about if council supported a tax abatement for the inn and that council considered the inn a crucial business for the town.
“I believe, as town administrator and being supervised by this council, that we will continue to work with the Carrot River Inn and work with them to try to bring business and tourism into Carrot River.”