By: Hinton Parklander
Denise Parent, director of corporate services, presented a request from Hinton Pulp, a division of West Fraser Mills, for a tax phase-in on the new lignin plant in Hinton to council on March 21.
The proposal calls for 20 per cent increases annually starting in 2017 and going until 2021, when full property taxes will be paid on the facility.
The idea was first presented at the standing committee meeting on March 14, where the proposal was directed to council for a formal decision.
West Fraser is the largest taxpayer in Hinton, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the municipal tax base.
There have been four previous similar agreements between Hinton and West Fraser, with the most recent taking place in 2011.
The motion to approve the tax phase-in was approved unanimously by council.
After the initial tax phase-in motion, discussion turned towards the possibility of crafting a policy to guide such decisions and encourage large investment in the future.
Coun. Stuart Taylor put forward a motion to direct administration to bring an incentive-based policy to cover large-scale projects in the future to a standing committee meeting.
Taylor said that he felt a policy of that nature would be a good way to attract investment in Hinton.
Coun. Matthew Young questioned the frequency of these requests and how beneficial a policy would be.
He said that in researching the idea, he found communities with similar policies ended up limited by the frameworks.
Coun. Albert Ostashek said this policy would be a proactive way to attract investment in the community.
“Any type of edge that a potential business can get moving forward through their construction phase is appreciated,” said Ostashek.
The motion carried unanimously.