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Vogiatzakis would give portion of business tax revenue to development group

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Mayoral candidate Mike Vogiatzakis vows to use business tax revenue to finance business growth and cap the total amount the city collects.

Vogiatzakis said he would cap the total amount of business tax revenue at $58 million and give $3 million of that every year to Economic Development Winnipeg, which would be free to use the funds to help existing business grow and attract new business.

"The business community hates the business tax," Vogiatzakis said during a news conference from a reception lounge at his Voyage Funeral Home. "We're giving the (business tax) money back to business where it belongs."

The city’s adopted 2014 operating budget predicts business tax revenue for the year at $59.7 million.

If elected, the proposal would benefit Vogiatzakis, who, while owning several properties in Winnipeg and owning the funeral home business, does not live in the city – he and his family have a home in the RM of St. Andrews.

Vogiatzakis credits the idea to an initiative of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Manitoba Bold, which generated similar suggestions on how to boost the local economy.

Sam Katz first ran for office 10 years ago on a promise to eliminate the business tax but the best he's been able to do is lower the rate and now freeze the rate.

Another mayoralty candidate, Judy Wasylycia-Leis earlier said she would freeze the tax rate -- but not the total amount collected.

Businesses pay property and business taxes but argue they receive nothing for the business tax. Other communities have eliminated the business tax but those cities are in other provinces where they can impose differential tax rates to make up for the lost revenue.

Vogiatzakis said he predicts his plan will fuel economic growth in the city, generating new businesses, new jobs, which will result in an overall increase in property tax revenue.

If the scheme succeeds, he said, the business tax rate will decrease every year as new businesses start up or existing ones expand

"It's win-win for everybody," Vogiatzakis said.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Friday, August 1, 2014 at 12:34 PM CDT: Tweaks headline, adds predicted business tax revenue

1:11 PM: Adds info re: how this would affect Vogiatzakis

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