Monday, September 7, 2015

Council's Permissive Tax Exemptions give Community Groups and other organizations more financial room to work with

As the final weekend of the summer moves wraps up today, many of Prince Rupert's community groups and other organizations will soon be looking ahead to the fall to do some of their financial planning for the months to come.

Last week Prince Rupert City Council offered up the prospect of a bit more financial help, particularly when it comes to the process for Permissive Tax Exemptions.

The process began on Tuesday evening with the City's Financial Officer Corrine Bomben explaining the options available to council, noting that with the current council now on a four year electoral cycle, that they may wish to draft the new Permissive Tax exemption bylaw to reflect that same period of time.

She also reminded Council members that there are two possible paths to follow when it comes to the exemption bylaw, with funding options that could provide for the full 100 percent allocation, or a continuance of the policy of scaled back exemptions that are currently in place.

Towards that topic, Ms. Bomben provided the details of city staff's analysis and the guidelines for consideration of the proposed exemption bylaw.

"The 2016 estimated value of property tax exemption is $332,000 if council were to give 100 per cent exemption to all applicants, or $316,000 if Council prefers to continue with the 2015 exemption rate.  Exemption values for  2017, 2018 and 2019 will change depending on whether assessed values increase or decrease." -- CFO Corrine Bomben outlining the options for Council on Permissive Tax Exemptions

The existing Bylaw splits the applicants into three categories: Places of Worship, Designated Properties, and Non-Designated Properties

You can review the full documentation on the issue through the City Council Agenda of last Tuesday ( see here, pages 51-53 ) Ms. Bomben's report and a list of those groups, organizations and properties that could take advantage of the exemptions is available there.

The list of those properties includes a range of the City's Houses of Worship, the Performing Arts Centre, Golf Course Society, School District and Annunciation School, Northern British Columbia Museum, SPCA and Friendship House to name a few.

When the time came for discussion on the proposal, Council not only accepted the 4 year cycle proposal, but chose to give the go ahead for the full amount of exemptions, allowing the community groups involved to have a greater certainty ahead for their financial planning requirements.

Councillor Blair Mirau led the call (seconded by Councillor Cunningham) for an approach that provides the Community groups with more room to  work with when it comes to the Permissive Tax Exemptions.

"I would be strongly in favour in restoring the 100 percent exemption, looking at the tangible impact on our budget, I think offering a four year cycle at the 100 per cent exemption  not only provides us with certainty for our budgeting in the future, but provides great certainty for a lot of these community organizations who are on small operating budgets"-- Councillor Blair Mirau speaking in favour of a return to 100 percent Permissive Tax Exemptions for Prince Rupert Community Groups and Organizations

With Council having provided the guidance for City Staff, a new Permissive Exemption Bylaw will be drafted and presented to Council for three readings, the Bylaw must be adopted by October 31st.

A review of some of the discussion on the theme can be found from last weeks City Council Timeline feature.

You can also review the entire review of the process from the City's Video Archive page, the conversation starts at the ten minute mark of the discussion and continues to the thirteen minute point.

For more notes related to City Council's session of September 1st, see our Council Archive here.

More background on Council discussions and developments can be found on our Council Discussion Archive page here.

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