The Cariboo Community Church has been approved for the permissive tax exemption normally given to religious and community organizations.
In the coming months the congregation hopes to move into the former Field’s Store at 35 Oliver Street in the downtown core.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the tax exemption at its regular council meeting Tuesday.
Coun. Craig Smith was absent and Coun. Sue Zacharias left chambers for the discussion and the vote because she is a member of the church.
Before the vote, Coun. Jason Ryll said while he was voting in favour of the exemption he also asked that the city ease up on what it is providing tax exemptions for in the downtown core.
“I know that within our tax base, property taxes is where we generate our revenue and the more we provide tax exemptions for our downtown the less we have that’s generating revenue for the city,” Ryll said.
Mayor Walt Cobb replied it was a consideration that should have been taken before council allowed the church to go into the downtown core in the first place.
Coun. Scott Nelson said while he agreed with the mayor’s comments he supported the tax exemption for the community church.
“We’ve talked about encouraging people into the downtown core,” Nelson said. “Obviously in terms of putting in the community church status during the zoning application I think we recognized clearly there was going to be a tax exemption coming down.”
Under the new tax exemption policy churches and organizations can expect the exemption to last for nine years.
“However, council can revisit these schedules anytime,” said chief financial officer William Wallace. “All tax exemptions are at the discretion of council.”
Nelson said the reason council revised the policy with the longer terms was so organizations would not have to submit applications every year.
In its 2015 annual report, the city listed general permissive tax exemptions totalling $175,255.
The recipients range from religious organizations to community organizations and clubs.
Presently members of the Cariboo Community Church meet to worship at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Woodland Drive.