Kelowna leaves tax exemption policy untouched | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna leaves tax exemption policy untouched


KELOWNA - It’s not broken, so why tinker with it.

That’s the view most Kelowna councillors took today, May 9, during a review of the city’s permissive tax exemption policy.

“I think there’s zero appetite to repen this and I think it’s served the city in the last 10 years,” Stack said. “We’ve had hardly any complaints other than people taking issue with the religious exemptions.”

Councillors heard from accountant Matt Friesen the details of the policy which is laid out in the communtity charter.

Kelowna will give out $1.5 million in 2016 to a variety of applicants which amounts to 1.6 per cent of the $120 million in property taxes the city expects to collect this year.

Some of the organizations include the John Howard Society of the Central Okanagan, Kelowna Elks Lodge #52, plus a handful of churches including Faith Lutheran, Unitarian Fellowship of Kelowna and the Apostolic Resource Centre.

Friesen explained the general statutory exemption includes places of worship, private schools and hospitals but only covers the buildings and the land underneath them.

Permissive exemption has eight categories of properties and include those owned by non-profit societies and cultural, athletic and recreational groups as long as the service they provide is accessible to all citizens.

However, unless that service is it’s principal business, an organization will receive a percentage tax exemption based on an estimate of how much space goes toward the it.

Applications require a two-thirds majority of council votes and must be submitted by Oct. 31 each year.

Kelowna’s permissive tax policy was last updated in 2006 when a task force was struck with the mandate to clean up Stack described as "loose rules” and inadequate application of them.

Coun. Gail Given said any change to the policy now should be done through the same task force mechanism used in 2006.

“This is a solid, defensible policy that easily identiifies organizations that shouldn’t qualify for tax exemptions,” Given said.

Find more stories on Kelowna City Council here.

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