Saturday, July 10, 2010

When it's the house's money, the house takes care of the house first!

A surprising revelation in the pages from the Daily News on Friday, with the discovery that the Chances gaming centre in town, which on most weekends seems to feature a rather crowded parking lot,  hasn't been particularly quick to pay it's outstanding property taxes.

Monica Lamb Yorski provides the worrisome news that one of the more heralded recent arrivals in the city is also one of it's more tardy of tax payers at almost three years and counting, holding on to the estimated tax bill of $617,057.62 in order to tackle more pressing concerns inside the gaming centres walls,  such as payroll and such.

In perhaps some foreshadowing of battles to come, Chances CEO Craig Briere expressed some frustration at the level of taxation in the city, citing the current levels as among the highest of any municipality in the province and vowing to continue on with appeals to the yearly tax bill.

Now forgive us if this seems all like a bit of deja vu, but can anyone think of any past local operation that expressed concerns over civic taxation levels and in fact chose not to pay property taxes?

And how did that work out for the city?

Fortunately for Rupertites in her report, Ms. Lamb-Yoski, passes on the news that Chances most likely will make some kind of tax payment within thirty days, relieving the city of the burden of having to go the tax sale route and all of which could follow that scenario.

Which is a good thing we suspect, as we shudder at the idea  that city council may end up running the roulette tables, slot machines and standing in for the pit boss from time to time.

But then again compared to some other investments, gambling could be a winfall for the city we guess and may offer up better odds than tax collection.

One imagines that the gambling economy in British Columbia and even Prince Rupert is still a vibrant one, though we gather not quite as rewarding as the operators of Chances would like to see or in fact report.

While we await the next tax deadline and the hopeful news that Chances arrears are clear or at least deferred once again, we do wonder if there are any other possibly delinquent corporate tax payers out there, and what impact their non flowing tax revenues might be having on the city.

When the Sun Wave situation evolved, we apparently were still spending money we had anticipated in collecting, has this been the same case with the Chances tax money or any other tax payer a little behind?

Perhaps one of the members of city council could fire off an email to the city's administration (apparently the preferred method of inter office communication at City Hall) and offer up some information for those of us that still feel the obligation to pay our taxes in full and ahem, on time.

Below Monica Lamb-Yorski's detective work on the taxing troubles of Chances

It’s all about taking one’s “Chances” on paying taxes
By Monica Lamb-Yorski  
Staff Writer
Prince Rupert Daily News
Friday, July 9, 2010 

The city of Prince Rupert is still waiting to collect.

For the last three years Chances has not paid its taxes. That said, Chances Prince Rupert is reportedly planning to make a payment in the next 30 days on an outstanding municipal tax bill of $617,057.62.

 CEO Craig Briere said Chances has basically had to prioritize what bills to pay and what to put on hold.

“Payroll comes first,” he commented.

Legally, companies can go for three years without paying their taxes before their property goes on the City’s tax sale list.

And even after that, the company has a year to pay up.

Mayor Jack Mussallem said businesses in various communities can elect to not pay their taxes for up to three years and make payments prior to the property going to tax sale.

“It’s not normally done, but from time to time businesses will do that for whatever reason is theirs. It’s not done widely, but it is done,” Mussallem said.

“People who usually do this as part of their business plan are very up to date on legislation.

“But once it goes to tax sale they have to pay all the outstanding taxes, plus the penalty, plus the interest within one year.”

But if, a week before that opportunity presents itself, they come in and pay one year of taxes, they can put it off for another year, the mayor said.

Briere commented it’s unfortunate but Chances has not come near its financial projection for the business.

“We have not been immune to the recession and we have the highest municipal tax rates of any gaming centre in the province,” he said. For the last two years, Chances has appealed its taxes and saw a slight reduction.

“We will continue to appeal them. They are detrimental to business,” Briere added.

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