One-time property tax credit for hotels that help resettle Ukrainian refugees would violate Municipal Law: Staff

City staff say Niagara Falls would risk breaking municipal law if it granted a property tax credit to hotels that help resettle Ukrainian refugees.

In March, Mayor Jim Diodati received a letter from a member of a community organization requesting a one-time municipal property tax credit for any hotel in the city that chooses to provide rooms as temporary accommodation for refugees fleeing the invasion. Russian from their country.

“From the beginning, the City of Niagara Falls has provided incredible support to the Ukrainian Canadian community and the entire Ukrainian diaspora around the world,” said Josh Bieuz-Yasyszczuk, founder and volunteer community director of NiagaraGives, in the letter.

“With an already strong Ukrainian community, Niagara is sure to become home to many Ukrainians seeking a life away from war. These refugees will need our help to resettle and rebuild their uprooted lives.

NiagaraGives describes itself on social media as a collective of local businesses, charities, nonprofits and individuals working together to help bring the spirit of the GivingTuesday movement to Niagara.

Bieuz-Yasyszczuk said hotels that provide a set number of rooms in Niagara Falls to use as temporary accommodations “would voluntarily take a financial loss, losing revenue generated from each room,” so he asked the city to provide tax. incentives.

City Council referred the matter to staff at its March 22 meeting.

In a report to be presented to council on Tuesday, staff recommend that council direct them to waive the tax credit, noting that by creating one, the city would risk violating Section 106 of the Municipalities Act which prohibits municipalities from financially assisting businesses and commercial enterprises.

Section 106 of the Municipalities Act states that a municipality shall not assist, directly or indirectly, a manufacturing enterprise or other industrial or commercial enterprise by the granting of bonuses for this purpose, such as the granting of total or partial exemption from any levy.

“Because a hotel is a commercial enterprise and a property tax credit offsets the property tax levy, the city would directly assist a commercial enterprise,” the report said.

“The city is responsible for billing and collecting property taxes on behalf of Niagara Region and school boards. The Niagara Region must also follow the rules set out in the Municipalities Act and as such would also be at risk of violating (the Municipalities Act) if offered such a credit.

Staff said the rates for the education portion of the tax are set by the Minister of Finance.

School tax rates are set out in Ontario Regulation 400/98 made under the Education Act.

“NiagaraGives may wish to ask the province to make changes to the Municipalities Act and the Education Act to achieve their goals,” the report says.