Belleville businesses with vacant spaces will soon not be able to get tax rebates which have been costing from the city hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
Since 1998 the Vacant Tax Rebate program, initiated by the province, has provided tax rebates and reductions to property owners who have vacancies in commercial and industrial buildings or land.
The city received 109 applications, totalling more than $315,000, in 2016.
The province is allowing municipalities to drop that.
Councillor Paul Carr told city council Monday night the city is investing in infrastructure in the downtown. and the business owners with vacant buildings should “”fix it, lease it or sell it.”
Carr says some owners take advantage of the tax rebate without improving their buildings. He says that’s where “urban decay starts.”
Without naming names, Councillor Jack Miller said one owner told him that, with the rebate, he was better off than making changes to his building.
A staff report to council shows that the majority of the city’s vacancy applications are for commercial vacant properties.
There were 119 vacancy tax rebate applications in 2014, with the city’s rebate share at $381, 762.
In 2015 there were 126 rebate applications, with the city’s rebate share at $365,473.
The city must go through a program of information with the businesses including the impact on them, and inform the province by certain deadlines, to gain approval for the change.