Niagara Falls motels’ money woes

While there’s a lot of talk about how the economy’s improving, motel owners in Niagara Falls will tell you they’re still stuck deep in the recession.

Ritu Narang does a check on the rooms at their Niagara Falls motel, even though the rooms are empty.

“It’s a great day today. You can look at the property. I have three rooms occupied right now.”

The Narangs’ 34 unit Advantage Inn is on the Lundy’s Lane strip, where the discounts are deep and innkeepers are begging for business. There are 7500 motel rooms in Niagara Falls, and thousands more in the hotel towers. Those Fallsview hotel rooms are what tourists want most.

“Even during the so-called season months of June, July and August. This property and that property and most of the small properties are full only on weekends, weekends.”

Devanshu says in the off-season he loses $8,000 a month. Property taxes alone on the Advantage Inn and his other motel across the street are $3300 every month.

As president of the Niagara Innkeepers Association, he has asked Niagara Falls council to let motel owners like him pay all their taxes in the busy months. and if those taxes are overdue to reduce the penalty to six per cent a year.

Councillor Wayne Thomson says council does understand the motel owners’ plight. “Council was in favour of trying to ease the burden, spacing out the payment and making it a little easier. Not demanding January 1st taxes be paid when they’re at their slowest period.”

Now any changes to the property tax instalment plan here in Niagara Falls won’t happen until next year at the earliest.  And as for reducing that penalty, city councillors say they don’t really want to do that.  Because they say that if they do it for one group, they have to do it for everyone.