OSHAWA ON, May 12, 2020 /CNW/ - Two hundred twenty-two properties and businesses in Oshawa are going to receive a surprise next month when they open their tax bill. For many, they will see an increase of 75%. For a few, the increase will be over 500%. In February, Oshawa City Council approved a Budget Increase for the Oshawa BIA, from $251,000 to $649,000. The BIA levy is an added tax over and above property taxes for a select group in the Downtown area.
"In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, this kind of tax increase will be catastrophic for many businesses, says Louise Parkes, who has operated a small business in Downtown Oshawa for 25 years. "With little or no revenue to offset expenses, businesses are burning through their cash reserves, while struggling to pay their rent and hydro. Right now, this kind of tax increase is unconscionable," she says.
Parkes is calling on City Council to reconsider the tax increase and restore it to the 2019 budget. She is also calling on the BIA Board to immediately cut spending because all events and large public gatherings must be cancelled.
Darryl Sherman, owner of Wilson Furniture and a former BIA chair, says that all businesses are navigating uncharted waters. "Since Covid-19, I have had to make tough decisions and cutbacks. I believe the BIA needs to follow suit," he explains. "When I was chair, we worked with many volunteers and kept our budget at $143,000 for over a decade. We accomplished a lot, but we did it affordably because many small businesses and startups couldn't afford to pay more".
Peter Traicus owns several properties in Downtown Oshawa. Many tenants, including restaurants, are closed and unable to pay rent. When asked how the BIA can help him, he says, "besides reducing my BIA tax levy, there is nothing they can do for me until the Covid-19 crisis is behind us."
There is a special group of 14-21 businesses that used to be capped at $5500 until City Council removed it and raised their taxes in some cases by 500%. Two properties will be paying an added tax of between $30,000 and $50,000 on top of their regular taxes. Shaking her head as she reviews the list, Parkes says that she has been advised the value of these properties will be reduced, and many will be hard to rent. She added that she supports the BIA, but it needs a "reality check." Traicus wants to go a step further. "We need the Council to suspend the BIA now and return our money to us. In a couple of years, we can review the fallout and make fresh plans", he says. Downtown Oshawa is the only place in the city that has a double tax that started in 1974.
Tax increase chart and detailed city and meeting reports available.
SOURCE Louise Parkes
For further information: Media Contact: Louise Parkes, 905 925-4771