The Prince Rupert Friendship House will have its property tax exemption affected by the rollback. By 2014 it will have to pay $7530 in property taxes it isn't paying now.

The Prince Rupert Friendship House will have its property tax exemption affected by the rollback. By 2014 it will have to pay $7530 in property taxes it isn't paying now.

City backs away from 40 per cent cut to tax exemptions for community groups

The Prince Rupert City Council has decided it won't make community groups pay 40% of their tax bill by 2014, just 20%.

City council has backed away from its plan to rollback property tax for community groups, at least partially.

During their September 4 meeting, council decided that next year organizations would have to pay 20 per cent of their property tax bill starting in 2013, and then pay 40 per cent of it the next year.

That change would have meant organizations such as the Friendship House, Salmon Hatchery, Transition Society, Senior Citizens’ Housing Society, and many others would have had to find hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to pay taxes they hadn’t been before.

But on Monday, council had second thoughts about their policy and decided to only make those organizations pay 20 per cent of their tax bill starting next year, and not cut back their tax exemptions any further for three years.

“I have a real problem with reducing tax exemptions by 40 per cent over two years. I don’t have a problem with a cut of 20 per cent, what I have a problem with is making it 40 per cent,” said councilor Joy Thorkelson.

“It seems to me that those organizations may have enough difficulty raising the 20 per cent that it’s going to take…I think they all make contributions to our community and a 20 per cent cut is a big cut.”

The cuts apply to any property tax exemption that is not for a school or a church  — which are both exempt from property taxes by law. Property taxes charged on church parking lots are still facing a 40 per cent cut in exemptions by 2014.

This plan will bring in just under $20,000 a year in new taxes; this represents a 0.1 per cent increase in the City’s overall tax revenue.