There will be no more tax breaks given for vacant commercial and industrial buildings in the City of Kawartha Lakes as of 2018.
For the past number of years the City of Kawartha Lakes has been giving vacant commercial and industrial building owners a break on their taxes. For the last few years it was a 30% rebate on commercial buildings and 35% on industrial buildings. The program was mandated by the Province.
Last year alone 51 properties were given a rebate to the tune of over $70,000. Since 2003 more than $1,000,000 has been given back in rebates. It’s called the Vacant Unit Rebate Program for Commercial and Industrial properties. Approximately 3% of the commercial and industrial properties are using the program annually with all property owners in the City funding the program.
The program was initially implemented by the Province recognizing there was a shift in tax burden to the business property owner with the elimination of the Business Occupancy Tax in 1998. Changes announced by the province in the 2016 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review makes recommendations for reviewing the program.
Council had been considering phasing in the changes over three years. Continuing with the 30% for 2017. Giving 20% in 2018, 10% in 2019 and zero in 2020. But in a last minute decision Mayor Letham put forth a motion to stop the practice entirely next year and council adopted it.
Council now must file a request with the Ministry of Finance for regulatory authority to change the Vacant Unit Rebate program which includes bringing the rebate to 0% effective 2018.