‘It feels like a slap in the face’: APAS concerned over Growth Coalition municipal tax proposal

The Saskatchewan Growth Coalition wants to see the province’s economy get stronger from mining to manufacturing by proposing a change to municipal taxing.

However, it is raising a red flag for farmers who worry they might end up paying more.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said that after the worst drought in over 30 years, the proposal feels like a slap in the face.

Scott Owens, APAS Director of District 6 said, “When oil and gas is back up to levels we haven’t seen in six or seven years, why all of a sudden do they need a tax break?”

The coalition said they want the provincial government to bring in limits on how much municipalities can tax different types of industries.

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There are three entities who pay taxes in a rural setting: residential, commercial and agricultural.

According to Owens, agriculture would be hit with a noticeable tax increase.

“If one party out of those three demands to pay less then someone has to pick up the slack and it was implied that farmers should be paying extra property taxes to make up the difference,” said Owens.

Read more: Saskatchewan farmers hoping for wet winter after drought-ravaged summer

A member of the Growth Coalition and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, John Hopkins, said that is not the case.

“We’re not saying that farmers should pay more or anybody should pay more, it’s let’s make sure that it’s a transparent process and that it’s fair.”

Owens has a counter proposal for the coalition to look into to help with their issue, saying, “If individual grain companies or gas companies have issues with particular RM’s, approach them directly.”

Read more: Crops rapidly deteriorating due to prolonged drought conditions: Sask Ag

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The coalition argues Saskatchewan needs to be more competitive when it comes to municipal taxes compared to other provinces, and they are willing to start the conversation.

“If that takes talking to other stake holders like APAS or whoever else it might be, then you know let’s sit down and talk about it,” said Hopkins.

The Government of Saskatchewan has yet to share their response on the topic.

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