A number of local organizations that have enjoyed a tax break in the past may be scrambling to come up with extra cash if two motions passed at a Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting are ratified by council.
On July 18, the committee resolved to recommend to council to do away with the town’s Permissive Tax Exemption (PTE) Program.
That program cost the town $312,931 in 2022.
The program runs on a three-year cycle, the current one being 2022 – 2024. If council ratifies the motion, the program would end for the 2025 taxation year.
At that same meeting, the committee also voted to deny three PTE applications for the 2024 taxation year. The first two were for Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre’s offices on Main Street and the Third Avenue community hall.
The third is for Grendel Group — a Smithers organization that provides “support for educational and ongoing meaningful work experience for people with cognitive and physical disabilities.”
The list of properties that would be affected by cancelling the program include assisted living facilities, seniors facilities, recreational facilities, property under partnering agreements, places of worship, private schools and non-profit organizations.
The motions came up for ratification at the regular meeting of council July 25, but council voted to put it off to the regular meeting on Aug. 22.
“Some of the people who spoke said it felt like they didn’t have enough notice,” said Mayor Gladys Atrill.
If ratified, the current recipients would be notified by an official letter from the town.
There are a number of exceptions, however.
The committee agreed that the Wet’suwet’en Treaty Society should be treated as a governing body even though it currently does not have treaties with the federal and/or B.C. governments and therefore their two properties, would be granted a PTE until such time as a treaty or equivalent is reached.
The others are for properties that are currently subject to partnering agreements under lease.
The first is for the Rotary Club’s Gordon L. Williams Park (next to Subway on Hwy 16), which is currently subject to a partnering agreement with Cenovus Energy (Husky) until 2032.
Another is the Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue’s facility a the Smithers airport, which is under lease until 2042.
There are also several properties that fall under the culture and recreation umbrella for which the Town has leasing arrangements.
These include art gallery and studio space on Railway Avenue, The Old Church on First Avenue, the Central Park building and museum storage space at Town Hall.
Aid for these will be reviewed as leases expire.