Council delays tax bill, businesses say that's not enough
Published Wednesday, January 28, 2009 5:51PM EST
Ottawa city council has decided to defer sending out property tax bills for one month, a move that will give local businesses and home owners a bit of a break in light of many challenges brought on by an ongoing public transit strike.
The delay in issuing the tax bill means the interim bill that property owners would usually pay in March will now be due in April. The move will likely cost the city $1.3 million.
Still, businesses say the strike is costing them a lot more than that.
"It's hard, very hard," said Abrahim Al-Tayeche, who has historically made good money from transit users who visit his Buck or Two store in Billings Bridge Mall.
Now, Al-Tayeche says the bus strike has all but wiped out his business and the store is down more than half its sales in previous months.
"We are paying rent of $17,000 and with this service, I don't think we can pay for this month," he told CTV Ottawa on Wednesday.
Although the city says it's sympathetic with business owners who are struggling to stay afloat during the strike, city officials say their hands are tied under the Municipal Act when it comes to offering relief for businesses.
"You can't provide a grant, reduce taxes, but what you can do is to defer the due date," said Ken Hughes, the city's manager of revenue.
Although the city has delayed the next tax bill, many business owners aren't convinced it will make a big difference.
"One month wouldn't be enough when you look at the strike that stretches two months," said Gerry Lepage of the Bank Street Promenade Business Improvement Area.
Business leaders say they plan to continue to push the city for more substantive help. Even if the strike is over soon, Lepage says the fallout for businesses won't be.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Joanne Schnurr