Some of the changes include that of the wording, making it clearer as to who is eligible for tax exempt status, what criteria they need to follow, and how the expenses are redistributed to taxpayers.
Other changes include new limitations to how much of their taxes are exempt, which is going to be decided based off a new matrix system created by staff in an effort to draft a financial analysis and framework for using a cost benefit based approach.
All applicants are now expected to be prepared to support its application in person, if requested to do so by council.
Below is a complete list of changes made to the Permissive Tax Exemption status obtained from the City of Fort St. John website:
Permissive Tax Exemption Policy Revisions
RECOMMENDATION NO. 1
“THAT, it be recommended to Council that staff update Council Policy No. 21/14 – Permissive Tax Exemptions as follows:
1. Approved the inclusion of the new wording in the policy:
“A permissive tax exemption is a way for Council to recognize and provide support to non-profit organizations (including churches) within the City who provide services to its residents that enhance the quality of life (social, recreational, spiritual, cultural) in Fort St. John.
“It is recognized that a permissive property tax exemption re-distributes this expense to the remainder of the City’s taxpayers. Thus, tax exemptions will be approved by taking Council’s goal of having a “planned and sustainable community by having municipal spending and policies are affordable and sustainable over time” into consideration.”
2. Approved the addition to the Eligibility Criteria Section in the policy:
“Vacant and undeveloped parcels owned but not actively being used by a non-profit organization will not be considered for a permissive tax exemption. Parcels that are being used as parking lots by non-profit organizations but not developed to City specification will not be considered.”
3. That the proposed addition regarding vacant land in the Eligibility Criteria Section be discussed during updated policy and matrix development:
“Vacant land which is part of a parent parcel and is over X square metres will not be considered for a permissive tax exemption.”
4. The addition to Eligibility Criteria Section be discussed during the updated policy and matrix development:
“The non-profit organization’s use of the land/improvements must benefit the City in one or more of the following ways for the property to be considered for a permissive tax exemption:
- Provides programs to and/or facilities used by youth, seniors or other special needs groups,
- Provides recreational facilities for public use,
- Provides recreation programs to the public,
- Provides supportive housing for people with special needs, *
- Preserves heritage important to the community character,
- Preserves an environmentally and ecologically significant area of the City,
- Offers cultural or educational programs to the public, which promotes community spirit, cohesiveness and/or tolerance,
- Offers services to the public in formal partnership with the City.”
5. Approved the addition to the Eligibility Criteria Section in the policy as amended:
“Properties that are leased by a non-profit organization who are requesting a permissive tax exemption must attach a copy of the current lease as part of the application and for future years it is recommended that these organizations apply for a grant-in-aid rather than a permissive tax exemption.”
6. Approved the inclusion of the following Eligibility Review Section to the policy:
“All organizations are subject to an annual eligibility review to ensure that the property is still being used for the purpose in which the exemption was originally granted. This review will be conducted by staff during the annual bylaw preparation. Non-profit organizations are encouraged to contact City staff if significant changes have occurred on the property.”
7, Approved the inclusion of the following to the Limitation Section of the policy:
“There will be no exemption or reduction to utility fees and charges for taxation exempt properties. Water, sewer, garbage and local area service taxes are due and payable.”
8. That the Limitation Section regarding percentage allocation for permissive tax exemptions be discussed during updated policy and matrix development and staff be directed to draft a financial analysis and framework for using a costs benefit based approach for Council’s consideration.
9. Approved the inclusion of the following to the Application Process Section of the policy:
“All applicants should be prepared to support its application in person, if requested to do so.”
10. Approved the inclusion of the following to the Funding Section of the policy:
“Space rented to a commercial business within a non-profit organization’s building is prohibited from tax exemption.”
“Council may approve a reduced permissive tax exemption allocation for those non-profit organizations who receive a grant-in-aid from the City.”