With just one vote in opposition, Penticton City Council approved the full list of groups seeking permissive tax exemptions in 2017.
Coun. Max Picton was the lone vote against including a list of non-profit groups and societies not meeting the city’s criteria, a list that includes the Salvation Army and the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society and Minor Hockey.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit pointed out that this was not the first time council attempted to do that, and that the groups provide significant support and programming for the community.
“They came back the following meeting and presented their case,” said Jakubeit. “If that is the direction council wants to go, be warned that they will be coming back talking about the good works that they do, which they do.”
In past years, the council has sought to limit the exemption list – in 2009 public sentiment forced the council of the day to back away from a policy that would have eliminated the land tax exemption for non-profit organizations with over $50,000 working capital, a group that included several churches.
In 2013, the rules were relaxed and places of worship, hospitals and schools only needed to apply a for the exemption on a three-year cycle.
The Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce was a late addition to the list, which Coun. Judy Sentes objected to, saying that being a past recipient, they should not have been late in applying.
“I think the Chamber should know and should be better aware,” said Sentes. “There is a policy and we are trying very hard to make people follow suit.”
Revenue supervisor Amber Coates explained that the Chamber had a change in location and was still adjusting.
“Their lease agreement over the last few years didn’t require payment of property taxes, so they no longer had to apply. Now that they are moving into their new location, there was a misunderstanding on deadlines,” said Coates.
The total amount of permissive tax exemptions is $452,004. Excluding those “not meeting policy criteria” would have saved the city $21,669.