City works on tax exemption policy

City council is reworking its permissive tax exemption policy.

City council is reworking its permissive tax exemption policy.

The new policy currently in draft form is intended to provide clarity, consistency and certainty to the municipality, the public and prospective applicants, the City says.

Pat Higgins, director of finance for the City, says currently there isn’t a “policy” in place; rather the City follows general guidelines set out under the Community Charter.

The new policy will allow council to designate a portion of land/improvements as exempted; impose conditions on exempted land/improvements with the applicant organization; and impose penalties on an exempted organization for knowingly breaching conditions of exemption.

It is proposed council will consider permissive tax exemption applications from places of worship, private schools and hospital for a period of up to five years. Other non-profit organizations will be considered annually.

Eligible applicants must qualify for the exemption under the Community Charter, be in compliance with municipal policies, and be a non-profit organization. According to the City, tax exemptions will only be granted to organizations that are registered charity or non-profit organizations.

In 2010 the value of permissive tax exemptions was $156,903 with exemptions given on 31 properties.

“This is a very important and council has been talking about it for quite some time,” said Mayor Kerry Cook, adding she was looking forward to consultation with current tax exemption recipients. “I know when we were dealing with this last fall it was difficult to move forward without criteria.”

Coun. Geoff Bourdon agreed acknowledging the move could be politically unfavourable but that it was keeping everyone’s interests in mind and creating fair distribution.

Coun. Tom Barr characterized the policy as a “clarification of what we’ve been doing for years.”

Current recipients of the permissive tax exemption policy will be consulted on a new policy that is intended to be in place for 2012.

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