City to roll back tax exemptions for community groups by 40%

Starting in 2013 the City of Prince Rupert will make property community group tax expeditions only cover 60% of the total tax bill.

Community organizations used to not paying property taxes will start feeling the pinch next year.

Prince Rupert council decided to begin rolling back property tax exemptions by 40 per cent over two years starting in 2013.

Mayor Jack Mussallem suggested the plan was a way to decrease city spending in order to address public complaints about the City’s tax rates.

“By the end of [2014] we’ll still have a property tax exemption but it will only apply to 60 per cent [of what they would owe without an exemption]. So, each year we are creating a 20 per cent allowance to ease the overall taxation in the community,” Mussallem said.

The reason for rolling exemptions back over two years will be to ease the community organizations into making up the difference with donations from the community at large.

Only the exemptions given to churches, schools and the largely city-owned properties known as the “Big Six”  (civic centre, library, golf course/racquet centre, museum, Lester Centre, visitors centre, tourism board) will be spared from the rollback. While the City is prevented from taxing church buildings because of the community charter, the rollback will affect the exemption on their parking lots.

The affected tax exemptions add up to less than $100,000, but nets the city $20,000 in 2013 and $40,000 in new tax money the following year.

Since the last municipal election, council has targeted Prince Rupert community organizations; freezing all community enhancement grants at their current levels, and cut others.

While $40,000 in new taxes is much more money than the $3,000 council saved by cutting some of the community enhancement grants, $40,000 still only represents a 0.2 per cent increase in Prince Rupert’s property tax income.

One of the organizations affected by the exemption rollback includes the Friendship House, which will reportedly need to pay $7,530 more. Other affected organizations include the North Coast Transition Society, the salmon hatchery, the seniors’ centre, Moose Lodge and the Aboriginal Justice Society.