UPDATE: Preeceville Town Council approved a 50% tax concession for one year and an additional 25% concession for a second year on March 10, 2021.
You are encouraged to copy this letter and adjust it for your specific background and experience then send it to your own town council. You deserve a tax break! Go get it!
In 2016 I bought 48 1st ave, a run down relic of a building in Preeceville with massive structural problems which ultimately cost me around $80,000.00 in raw materials (not including labour which I did myself) to fix on top of the purchase price. As this was a long term investment I was glad to pay it and spent almost all of my savings with local vendors as I built my dream of a production studio in small town Saskatchewan. A quiet life of writing and making music with the people I grew up with. What's better than that?
I was a computer programmer in Regina and residuals from my old software and websites paid me enough to drop all new projects to focus on Verboten. I had planned to spend 3-5 years at it before moving onto a land project. The hope was to start generating content to sell online to buy land outright without borrowing. I'd lined up a few collaborators in earnest to work at the studio over 2020/2021 to build our catalogue beyond the software I'm always working on, however, that all fell through when...
When the pandemic hit my monthly income from residuals held on at severely reduced levels for the first 6 months or so before drying up completely. My clients in the city slowly went out of business or scaled back. I lost my last major client around July/Aug. Since then I've brought in almost nothing as no-one wants to risk their money on anything beyond essentials right now.
I don't qualify for any assistance, because the feds demand my business earn 5000.00 in the previous year to qualify and because I was just spending money building the business I hadn't earned any income with this new studio and my old tech company is shut down now. I was, therefore, left out in the cold and have been ever since. Anything I do here with this request is simply to maximize my chances of survival without selling the property and just giving up. I'm not looking for a hand out. I just want fair dealings. As you confirmed earlier today I am all paid up for past taxes as I take my responsibility as a producer seriously.
I am asking for tax relief during the pandemic and ongoing reduction in commercial taxes for myself and any other business deemed non-essential as our commercial tax rates are no longer commensurate to operating market norms. Without adjustments this will have a chilling effect on further investment which our small town communities desperately need. We are now effectively "second class" producers for the following reasons.
Non-essential vs Essential Business
A large part of last year all so called "non-essential" businesses were shut down arbitrarily, and when allowed to open again we faced confusing and constantly changing standards. What a surprise for me to discover that my business was non-essential. This was a surprise as I was operating under the firm understanding that there were only two tax designations, residential and commercial and that all those who pay commercial rates could expect the same operating rights.
This is obviously not true, however. There are real dividends being paid to the "essential" businesses which are not received by "non-essential" businesses, though we pay the same rate. This is not fair on the face of it.
All businesses who pay the same rate should get the same market rights. Giving advantages to some businesses over others is anti-competitive as you've personally pointed out to me when you said solutions for me regarding this tax situation would have to be valid for all. While I appreciate the possibility of a one time tax benefit that you've offered to "new businesses" in the past, the fact of the matter is, moving forward my business simply can't expect equal market access which "essential" businesses enjoy and therefore a longer term solution is appropriate. Whatever form the council decides that might take.
Climate of Fear and Intimidation
While my business was allowed to open the doors eventually, the constant media messaging pushing a fear narrative scared small town people and overwhelmed officials with constant Covid19 reminders more appropriate in large city centres where the virus was a major problem due to population density. A one size fits all federal response pushed through daily reminders of phantom menace has created a climate of fear and intimidation between common folk and officials.
No one feels safe talking with each other openly about this. Any political opinion is cloaked behind a "pandemic" shield. Politicians have never been more restricted as it applies to innovations and yet unaccountable to their lack of creative solutions at the same time. It damages relationships and overwhelms with issues seemingly beyond anyone's control. There is so much distrust and suspicion in the air. Will you lose a friend today; will your family member betray you for a mask slip tomorrow? Will a customer shut you down with a false claim of too many people on your property? Why take the risk when one fine is more money than you've made all year?
Yet, so called essential businesses were not only allowed to stay open and enjoy increased foot traffic (and record performance on the stock market), they also enjoyed the exact opposite media narrative which reminded everyone how essential and safe they were even as they reminded us who wasn't essential and by inference... not safe.
Which brings us to...
No Market For Non-Essential Businesses
(Whether the doors are open or not)
So even when my business was allowed to open up again there was/is no market left for what I do to open up to as the Covid19 protocols kill the essence of all artistically creative production and make complex collaborations impossible at price point. Making content requires people in a room and they can't be wearing masks, and there might have to be dozens of us in a close space, etc. Major productions are spending millions to operate in ways that used to be routinely free. I simply can't afford to match that and frankly no one else around here can either. Hence why there is no local creative production right now beyond government agency. Some of us don't want to work for the state. Nobody is touring, nobody is in studio recording. Most musicians I know barely even practice their instruments as they, too, were deemed non-essential.
When the media and government tell you every day your dreams are non-essential you tend to stop dreaming. I hope you'll consider my request and not dismiss it out of hand as the words of just one upset business owner. To be forgotten. To be ignored. The problems I've pointed out may seem beyond the power of a town council to address adequately, and that may be true, but what is also true is you are in a position to do something. Anything. The feds aren't interested. They won't listen to me and even if they did they wouldn't hear what I'm saying. I'm just a small business; I don't speak "corporate" fluently. You live in this community with me. You know what we're dealing with out here every day. Do something about it.
Anthony Jon Mountjoy