City reviews vacancy rebate program – Ontario News

City reviews vacancy rebate program – Ontario News

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is launching a review to determine what, if any changes should be made to the existing vacancy rebate program.

 

A short online survey is asking residents to provide their input on the program.

An open house is set for Tues. April 11 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for residents, businesses and property owners to engage in a more detailed discussion about the program.

Currently, the city provides tax relief to commercial and industrial property owners with vacancies.

A rebate of 30 percent is provided to vacant commercial property owners and 35 percent for vacant industrial properties.

Residential property taxes fund about 70 per cent of the subsidy.

In Sault Ste. Marie, that means about $375,000 from the city budget is returned to the 120 property owners annually from the municipal portion of the tax levy, said Shelley Schell, chief financial officer and treasurer.

Local statistics also show that 12 properties received a rebate of over $10,000, three of those located downtown. The shopping centres collect 72 per cent of Sault Ste. Marie’s overall rebate funding annually.

The Ontario government has recently changed legislation that allows municipalities to set their own course with vacancy reviews.

Schell said that in 1998 the Ontario government has required that municipalities provide tax relief to property owners with vacancies in commercial and industrial buildings as a trade from landlords’ expanded property tax liability resulting from the abolishment of charging business occupancy taxes directly to tenants.

Properties are eligible for a rebate once they have been vacant for 90 days.

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