April 17, 2013 - 12:06 PM
At a regular council meeting Tuesday councillors approved several new regulations for the Permissive Property Tax Exemptions for Non-profit Organizations policy they feel will better serve both residents and the non-profit community.
The tax exemption policy has been in place since 2005 and has been amended three times since then. At a 2012 workshop council asked for yet another amendment - a better way to provide a funding cap and to bring the information to council by the end of June if the fixed percentage exemption based on the funding cap will be less than 90 per cent.
Staff also recommended including the phrasing “municipal portion” to add clarity to the policy and changing the dates of application deadlines and reporting to council to allow a review by the social planning council and to give staff more time to compile applications and prepare calculations.
The three year application cycle means reports would only have to come to council once every three years, and only if the applications reach the cap and go below the 90 per cent exemption threshold. The cap is based on the average of total exemptions in the past five years.
There is also a three-year phase in period for new applications, the first year allows only a 33 per cent exemption, the second year 66 per cent and finally a full exemption in the third year. Because these new applications could alter the funding cap the calculation utilizes that the grant would have been at 100 per cent.
If the total number of qualified applications goes above the funding cap the groups will all receive a fixed percentage exemption of their total property assessment for the three year period. Based on 2008-2012 exemptions the funding cap would be $496,290 with the municipal portion at $332,276. That means at a 90 per cent exemption rate, a value of $551,433 in applications would result in $396,195 municipal portion.
In 2012 the lost revenue from the municipal portion of the exemptions granted to organizations was $348,163.
While the agencies have not been consulted over any of the amendments they did have input on the original policy. When applying, all agencies must provide financial records, an annual budget for the requested exemption year and scale drawings in addition to the six-page application form.
Council was happy to see the policy changes come forward and were quick to accept them, though a motion to remove one of the questions from the application was rejected.
Mayor Peter Milobar said he is “against wordsmithing things that seem to be working fine. I haven't heard from any agencies it's difficult to fill out.”
Coun. Ken Christian agreed, “I make it a point to not try and solve problems we don't have.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013