Places of worship, social service providers, charities and other nonprofits will be required to pitch into the city’s tax roll next year, just a little bit.
Earlier this year, council voted to cap permissive tax exemptions for the first time at 1.68 per cent of the city’s total annual property tax intake. The city took in just under $34M in property taxes this year, meaning in 2020 there will be a hard cap of $557,716 worth of tax breaks to go around.
Council heard Tuesday the city has received applications for 166 exemptions worth a combined $591,309 — meaning all nonprofits that receive an exemption will still have to pick up 5.65 per cent of their property tax bill.
For an organization like the BC SPCA, which operates a facility at 2200 Dartmouth Drive, it will be required to pay a little over $800 in property taxes next year while receiving a $13,514 break compared to what a for-profit group would pay.
City staff told councillors that local nonprofits were informed that a cap system had been brought in, and that they would have to pay a little bit should that figure be exceeded.
Buildings used for public worship or hospitals, and those for learning receive a provincially-mandated property tax exemption, but the surrounding areas (ie parking lots and lawns) are under municipal jurisdiction.
Council appeared somewhat wary about the optics of having a church pay property taxes, however little the amount may be, but approved the motion unanimously 6 - 0 with Mayor Vassilaki recused.
“I’m worried that we’re kind of opening up Pandora’s box here, but until we try it, we won’t really know,” said Coun. Katie Robinson
“I know the argument is going to be coming forward to council, or publicly possibly, by some people,” Coun. Jake Kimberley added. “But this is something that council asked for.”