Prince Rupert City Council approved $411,984.48 worth of municipal tax exemptions to a variety of churches, service groups, cultural and recreational facilities, and social service groups located inside Prince Rupert.
The council passes a bylaw every year granting exemptions from paying municipal property taxes and last week they finalized the list for 2012.
To get a tax exemption from the City, property owners must apply for one. There are five different kinds of property owners that are regularly given exemptions: religious organizations that provide an educational service, religious organizations that want their parking lot or other grounds exempt, community groups that provide a community service and occupy city-owned land or own their own property, and corporations that allow public use of their property.
Church groups in Prince Rupert were given a total of $12,173.18 worth of tax exemptions, Service Groups got $38,878.27, recreational and cultural facilities got $318,400.95 worth and Social Service groups got $42,496.08.
The Lax Kw’alaams Ferry Corporation had originally made a request to the City that it too should be exempt from paying $78,628 worth of municipal taxes, despite being a for-profit business, on the grounds that it provides an important service to the people living in the village.
“The corporation suggests that it should be granted on the grounds that their financial circumstances are such that they are basically a non-profit organization, and on the grounds that the ferry terminal provides regular economic benefits to the city,” said the city’s chief financial officer, Dan Rodin.
The city staff didn’t see it that way and recommended that council turn down the application by the ferry corporation, because it could mean opening the door to more exemptions like this.
“Although the corporation’s financial circumstances may not be optimal, there are many organizations that would also appreciate relief from municipal property taxes on the grounds that their finances are not the best,” said Rodin.
The council accepted staff’s recommendation and the Lax Kw’alaams Ferry Corporation was not included in the 54 property owners that were exempt from taxes.
It is difficult to compare municipalities on how many tax exemptions while Prince Rupert gives out exemptions another community might traditionally give out grants instead. Or one community may run its own ice rink while in another it might be run by a non-profit group.