Peace River town council decided at its Dec. 11 meeting to continue to follow protocol set by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and acknowledge applications by non- profit organizations to be exempted from paying their property taxes.

“I think the Municipal Government Act recog- nizes that non-profits are a very important part of the health of a community and are often helping a range of individuals keep a healthy lifestyle mentally and physically that is not or cannot be provided by government programs or for-profit businesses,” says Mayor Elaine Manzer.

“This tax exemption is applicable to non-profits who might not be able to afford property tax payments and also run their operations,” she adds.

Manzer explains to qualify the non-profits have to meet a number of criteria including that the tax exemption only applies to the part of the property that qualifies for the exemption. She says the property must be used for the purpose for at least 60 per cent of its entire usage, it has to be incorporated, and the property cannot be restricted based on ownership of the property, race, culture, ethnic origin or religious belief and the requirement to pay fees other than minor entrance or service fees or minor requirement to become a member of an organizations.

“The town council approves the applications that qualify for the tax exemption,” says Manzer. “The Town could require the non-profits to apply each year, but to save the non-profits and also Town administration’s time, the Town has now brought all the applications to having the same cycle of applications, so all 20 successful non-profit exemptions end after the same 3-year time period. All successful applications were approved for 2024, 2025 and 2026 tax years when they will have to reapply.”

Manzer adds new non-profit applicants can apply during any tax year. The Town is required to exempt non-profits that fit the criteria listed above.

She explains that the 20 non-profits that qualified for tax exemption would have accumulated to $206,479 in property taxes each year.

“It should be noted that this category does not include churches or provincial properties such as educational or medical facilities.

“The Province does provide a Grant In Lieu of Taxes (GILT) to the Town for some of the provincial properties. In 2024, it is estimated that the taxes for the provincial GILT properties would be about $250,000 but the Province only pays about half of the amount and has reduced the amount they had been paying over the last several years to the present amount.”

Manzer says council and ratepayers like to have these facilities available to the town and region residents but there is a price for the town taxpayer.

“The Town does not have many choices to make up for lost revenue,” she says. “The choices are taxes and debt and some grants or partnerships. The town taxpayers are paying the bills to run the town and the missing revenues from some programs the Town does not control are compensated through the tax supported budgeting process.”

Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter – South Peace News – southpeacenews.com

Original Published on Dec 20, 2023 at 09:45

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta

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