Penticton and South Okanagan
Nonprofits back on tax exempt list
Oct 24, 2013 / 5:00 am
Three Penticton nonprofits are back on the tax exempt list, after representatives made appeals on their behalf at this week's Penticton city council meeting.
The South Okanagan Similkameen Brain Injury Society, the Penticton Senior's Drop-In Centre and the Salvation Army's food bank and thrift store were recently removed from the list because their working capital was higher than $100,000.
"The services they provide to the community, far outweighs the benefits we might get from charging a tax," said Mayor Garry Litke. "Unfortunately, there are people falling through the cracks, and it behooves us as a community to make sure we have beds and roofs over these folks."
In the appeals, representatives stressed losing the tax exemption would create financial hardships, thus impacting the services they provide. In the case of the Salvation Army that is providing food and clothing through the thrift store and food bank, while the drop-in centre offers programs to seniors.
Patti MacAhonic, chief executive officer of the Brain Injury Society, said it was incorrect to call what they had working capital, because the funds are designated to be spent on such services as housing.
"When you see it sitting there, it might look like it's available, but it's not," she said. "It goes to different programs, and if we lose money it impacts keeping the doors open."
The three levels of service offered by the society are for acquired brain injuries, mental health and housing and homeless outreach.
To get her point across, MacAhonic mentioned that just last week the RCMP dropped a homless person off at their building and staff worked with the invidivual.
As for getting the designation back, she said she was really pleased.
"I was a bit shocked when I found out about this, but the city has been very accomodating and helpful," she said."They really stepped up and I appreciate it."
Councillor Wes Hopkin said it is likely they will review the permissive tax exemption policy, as well as the municipal grant policy in the new year.
"It will probably be around February or March, just to avoid any conflict in the future," he said.
The policy requires applicants to provide financial information and proof that the organization is in good standing with the Society Act.
Staff then reviews the applications and determines which organizations would suffer a financial hardship if the exemption was not endorsed and which are in a good financial position and should be considered individually.
New in the policy for 2014 was all places of worship would be exempt for three years, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
A special council meeting will be held Oct. 31 to give final reading to the permissive tax exemption bylaw.
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