Downtown businesses face zone levy hike

Downtown Red Deer businesses will be asked to pitch in a little more after city council approved the Downtown Business Association’s 2014 budget.

Downtown Red Deer businesses will be asked to pitch in a little more after city council approved the Downtown Business Association’s 2014 budget.

The budget, approved unanimously by Red Deer city council on Monday, asks for a seven per cent increase in revenue from the business revitalization zone levy. Amanda Gould, Red Deer Downtown Business Association executive director, said this could mean an increase to individual business owners.

“My very early discussions with the Taxation Department at the city suggest that will be under a one per cent increase for business owners,” said Gould.

The levy would bring in $331,433, up from $309,750 in 2013. Some of that will make up lost revenue from the end of the Centrefest Project Management contract. Gould said the DBA office acted as the main address for Centrefest as well as being the main point of communication. However, for 2014 Centrefest has decided to operate on its own, and the $50,000 it paid to the DBA is no longer in its budget.

Rent has also doubled for the DBA as its offices have moved from the Scott Block, at 4818 50th Ave, to the old train station, at 5000 51st Ave. Gould said they previously enjoyed cheap rent, being one of the first tenants at the Scott Block.

However, their five-year contract expired in 2013 and the cost to stay in the building would also have increased. In 2014, rent will increase to $49,000 from $24,000 in 2013.

Gould said the new cost includes parking, which the previous rental agreement did not include.

The new space is also larger, allowing them to rent out some space for more revenue, something they were unable to offer in their old office.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes asked Gould about the reception of the Ross Street Patio project. Gould said they have mixed results from business owners, with some in favour and others very much against it. She said the main reason people are against it is because it reduces the number of parking spaces.

“There is always mixed reviews with the patio,” said Gould. “There are 480 businesses downtown and not everyone is going to be unanimous. We did have some negative feedback, but in comparison to the positive feedback we’ve had it completely outweighs the negative.

“The DBA will always be in support of the Ross Street Patio.”

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