Restaurateurs say proposed Halifax budget is wrong recipe for economic growth

HALIFAX, May 21 /CNW/ - The proposed regional budget now before Halifax council contains unreasonable tax hikes and hidden cost increases that will put economic growth on the back burner - particularly for restaurants, pubs and other foodservice businesses.

The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), which represents restaurateurs in the region, is asking council to go back to the budget drawing board.

"The proposed budget will slow the economic recovery by placing an undue burden on restaurants and other small businesses," says Luc Erjavec, CRFA's Vice President Atlantic. "Our members are breathing a sigh of relief because they made it through the recession, and now they face another potential setback that is completely unnecessary."

Under the proposal now before council, businesses would be faced with a base rate increase of nearly 14 cents per $100 of assessment, compared to 4 cents per $100 of assessment for residents. Restaurants in HRM already pay four times the tax rate as residential rate payers and receive a lower level of service on things such as garbage pick-up. The proposed budget also includes hidden new costs for operators such as higher garbage tip fees and higher fees for criminal background checks required by liquor licensed establishments.

"Putting a heavier tax burden on the business community will not create the vibrant city and economic growth sought by council," says Erjavec. "Our restaurants, pubs and coffee shops bring a lot to the table in terms of jobs, investment, innovation and tourism. Instead of stifling these businesses with tax and fee hikes, we believe HRM should work with the industry to foster growth and create a more vibrant community."

CRFA is encouraging council to get its spending under control without tax increases and bring in a budget that is equitable and fair to both residents and business owners.

The Nova Scotia foodservice industry employs over 30,000 people, the majority of which are in HRM.

SOURCE Restaurants Canada

For further information: For further information: Luc Erjavec, (902) 209-0804, or luc@crfa.ca; Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, CRFA Communications Specialist, 1-800-387-5649, ext. 4254 or pvasanthakumar@crfa.ca


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