Lacombe County experiments with development incentives

Businesses setting up or expanding in Mirror may qualify for grants

Lacombe County is rolling out an incentive program to sweeten the pot for businesses considering setting up or expanding in Mirror.

The three-year pilot project approved by county council on Thursday would offer a grant to offset municipal property taxes over 10 years. It would apply to new industrial and commercial businesses.

Under the program, a grant covering 100 per cent of municipal property taxes (school taxes not included) would be offered for the first year a business was open. The grant would drop to 90 per cent of taxes the following year and would go down by 10 per cent each year until full taxation was reached.

To help business people just thinking of an addition, a grant will be offered covering the increase in property taxes because of expansion for one year.

County staff have been looking at an incentive program for some time and looked at various schemes adopted in other communities.

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Coun. Rod McDermand questioned why the pilot project was limited to one community.

“Why Mirror, because we have other hamlets,” he asked, offering Tees and Joffre as examples.

Dale Freitag, county manager of planning services, said Mirror was chosen because it is seen as the hamlet most likely to attract industrial and commercial development.

If the incentive proves successful, it could be extended to other hamlets.

“This is a pilot project. We’ve never done anything like this,” he said. “So, the intention is to see how well it does in Mirror.”

Although its initial term is limited, any businesses that signs up will continue to get the tax incentive over the full 10 years. The county estimated a business that proves successful and continues to pay property taxes would pay off the grant in about 10 years.

Councl approved a $5,000 budget for the first year of the program. If it proves a winner, more money may be added for future years.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

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