Council 180 on tax breaks

Reversing a previous decision, Penticton city council didn’t have the stomach to move forward with a plan that would have charged local charities and nonprofits a small portion of their annual property tax bill.

The plan would have seen the groups pay 5.65% of their total tax bill, rather than getting a full exemption like in previous years. City staff made the proposal due to a cap council placed earlier this year on exemptions 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 would have been a hard cap of $557,716 worth of tax breaks to go around, while there were $591,309 worth of applications. 

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. 

Council unanimously supported the plan on Sept. 17, but were inundated with messages from local nonprofits since then. 

“My main concern is that the churches, nonprofits and groups involved in this. I don’t think they had a clear understanding of how this would affect them,” said Coun. Katie Robinson. “I know that it doesn’t amount to a lot of money, however, to each of these groups that fight so hard for every single dime they have.”

With Mayor John Vassilaki recused, council voted unanimously to defeat the adoption of the plan, and instead directed staff to draft a new plan to provide the groups with their full requested exemption. A provincial end-of-the-month deadline for tax exemptions forced council to make a decision one way or another. 

Council also directed staff to take another took at the program before the 2021 budget cycle.

More Penticton News