Hamilton

City council tries to ease the tax burden on Hamilton Specialty Bar

Hamilton city council will debate tonight helping a major steel employer in danger of closing with its taxes.
Hamilton city council will debate tonight trying to ease the tax burden for the future owner of Hamilton Specialty Bar. The company has about 200 unionized employees. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

Hamilton city council has voted to give some future tax relief to a major steel employer in danger of closing.

Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, introduced a motion Wednesday asking for an incremental deferral program for Hamilton Specialty Bar to make it easier for a future owner to pay the taxes. He also wants the city to look at how it can help the company if it falls behind on its taxes in the future.

The steel company has been in trouble since January, when its doors were suddenly shut and its operations sent into a receivership under the control of a trustee. It's now in the hands of a liquidator, but the union hopes it can be saved.

About 200 workers there are represented by United Steelworkers Local 4752. There are also about 50 salaried workers. Another 400 retired workers and their families are also affected. The company is more than 100 years old.

Green's motion asks that council support "in principal" a future owner/operator in paying the property taxes. He talked with USW and liquidator KAL Advisory Partners LLC before he drafted the motion.

"Our economic development department spends tremendous time attracting new business to Hamilton," Green said. But "it's equally important to keep Hamilton's legacy businesses operating."

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will live tweet from the meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. at city council chambers. Follow her at @SamCraggsCBC or in the window above.

Here's Green's entire motion:

WHEREAS, the City of Hamilton has a long and very proud history of producing the steel that built this country's manufacturing sector with good jobs and the growth of related supporting businesses,

AND WHEREAS, in recent years our Steel sector has suffered loses of direct jobs, pensions, benefits as well as the impacts on the local small businesses associated to these plants, as a result of bankruptcies most notably with MANA and US Steel/Stelco.

WHEREAS, Hamilton Specialty Bar has produced high quality steel for over 100 years supporting the automotive industry with 3 generations of workers dating back 1910 and at present has the capacity to employ 250 workers when in full production,

AND WHEREAS, the extended deadline to save Hamilton Specialty Bar with an approved bidder has officially passed and the liquidation bidder American Iron & Metals has taken over the plant.

AND WHEREAS, interested bidders including KAL Advisory Partners LLC and the United Steel Workers are still working diligently to keep the viability of steel production and operations at the Hamilton Specialty Bar plant a "Going Concern".

WHEREAS, on March 28, Hamilton City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for City Staff That the City Manager Chris Murray, the General Manager of Planning and Economic Development Jason Thorne, and the General Manager of Corporate Services Mike Zegarac be directed to meet the interested parties as appropriate, to explore any and all opportunities for City supports to keep Hamilton Specialty Bar a "Going Concern" with the continued production of specialty steel, the 250 related jobs and workers.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

(A) A That Council support, in principal, potential future owners/operators of the Hamilton Speciality Bar operations as it relates to potential property tax payment plans;

(B) That should the Hamilton Specialty Bar operations require future relief as it relates to property tax penalties and interest, that staff be directed to report back to Council with options, including potential support from the Province of Ontario.

(C) That the Mayor on behalf of Council correspond with the Premier the Hon. Kathleen Wynne and the Minister of Economic Development and Growth the Hon. Steven Del Duca to explore any and all avenues of emergency and long term support for the continued production at Hamilton Specialty Bar, the 250 related jobs, workers and pensioners.

(D) That the Mayor on behalf of Council correspond with the Prime Minister the Right Hon. Justin Trudeau and the Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne to explore any and all avenues of emergency and long term support for the continued production at Hamilton Specialty Bar, the 250 related jobs, workers, and pensioners.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She often tweets about Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca

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