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Beltline shop owner pushing back on business association fees

Last Updated Jan 16, 2020 at 11:49 am MST

CALGARY (CityNews) – You would think a group made to promote neighbourhood business would be welcomed by entrepreneurs, but one business owner wants to disband a group, two weeks after it was formed.

Karen Barry says she already pays thousands in business property taxes for her cannabis shop in the Beltline, and never agreed to shell out more for a new business improvement association.

Barry says many businesses may have said yes to an association without knowing they were agreeing to pay more taxes.

“I approached a number of them that were on the list and they emphatically told me that had they known there was this additional tax involved that they would not have been in support of it. We’ll see what happens when we go through the dis-establishment process.”

There are over 350 registered businesses in the Beltline Business Improvement Association’s boundaries and it’s allowed to form with support from a quarter of them.

“If you’re a third-floor office that’s a thousand square feet, [the tax] is going to be a very small amount,” said Adrian Urlacher with the Beltline Business Improvement Association.

Urlacher said the average tax will be up to 0.2 per cent of a business tax assessment.

RELATED: Fee increases and new taxes coming in 2020

The group is proposing a roughly $400,000 budget based on numbers from a neighbouring association.

The budget will be presented to a city finance committee next week and Urlacher said the city will collect taxes from businesses for the association.

Barry argues only an owner who would be paying the levy should have that authority to sign off to support a new business improvement association.

Urlacher said an official association now has access to millions in grants and Calgary Parking Authority revenue that will go back to businesses.

Barry worries, however, this will give the city the power to approve another tax on businesses.