Elmira core businesses face higher taxes as council approves BIA request to boost levy

Elmira BIA members will start paying higher taxes this year, as Woolwich council approved plans to increase the special levy assessed on commercial properties in the core.

Tuesday night’s decision clears the way for the Business Improvement Area to boost its budget to $50,000 from the current $30,000, as requested by the organization’s executive.

While some members objected, the number fell well below the one-third level that would have been needed to block the request. The township received eight objections from members representing nine properties in the core, representing 10.6 per cent of those entitled to comment and 14.1 per cent of the assessed value of properties in the BIA area.

Given that, staff saw fit to recommend approval by council, said township clerk Val Hummel.

It will be the first increase in the levy since 1988.

Established in 1980, the BIA encompasses 73 properties and more than 100 businesses in a defined area of downtown Elmira. Its main purpose is to provide business promotion and improvements such as building facade upgrades and beautification in the core.

The decision raises the minimum levy to $100 a year and the maximum to $2,000, up from the current $50 and $1,000 respectively. The current average special levy of $549 will rise accordingly, with the new provisions adding in a two per cent annual increase thereafter.

The new $50,000 target will continue to be augmented by the $10,000 a year paid by the Walmart store, an arrangement made to settle a legal battle during the planning phase for the retail power centre near St. Jacobs. That fee will remain unchanged by the new levy structure.

The BIA requested additional funds to expand its undertakings such as planting trees downtown, sprucing up the area through the installation of seating, decorative planters, artwork and updated lighting. Funds will also be used for additional promotional and advertising efforts.

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