Nelson City Council is in the process of deciding on its permissive tax exemptions for this year. These municipal property tax exemptions may be given to non-profits who apply, if their organization:
- Provides needed social and community services to city residents,
- Provides arts, cultural or recreational activities of demonstrable benefit to city residents,
- Has the ability to raise its own revenues, and
- Offers its services primarily to the broader community of citizens.
Several years ago, five organizations that operate on city property were given 10-year 100 per cent tax exemptions: the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, the Rod and Gun Club, the Curling Club, the Capital Theatre, and Touchstones.
This year, one-year 100 per cent tax exemptions will be given to four organizations in buildings owned by the city: Civic Theatre, Glacier Gymnastics, Nelson Soccer Association and Nelson Christian School.
The remaining exemptions, which would normally be given for three or more years, were this year given for just one year because the city intends to review its policy on who gets exemptions, including how exemptions should be applied to social housing projects such as those under construction by Nelson CARES and Kootenay Christian Fellowship. Some of the recipients are also in the midst of constructing buildings the assessed value of which is not yet clear.
One-year 100 per cent tax exemptions were given to the following 17 organizations: Ascension Lutheran Church, Bethel Christian Centre, Cathedral of Mary Immaculate, Evangelical Covenant Church, United Pentecostal Church, First Baptist Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses Nelson, Nelson United Church, St. Saviour’s Anglican Church, Kootenay Kids Society, Nelson CARES (Nelson Avenue and Vernon Street.), Nelson Kiwanis Projects Society, and the West Kootenay Women’s Association.
In addition, one-year partial tax exemptions were given to nine other non profits: Granite Pointe Golf Club, Nelson CARES (Ward St.), Kalein Hospice Society, Church of Latter Day Saints, Canadian Red Cross Society, Kootenay Co-op Radio, Kootenay Kids Society, Kootenay Christian Fellowship, and the Salvation Army.
The organizations with the largest proposed exemptions are Granite Pointe Golf Club ($6,753), Nelson CARES Society for Nelson Avenue housing ($13,559), and Nelson Kiwanis Projects Society for seniors housing on Gordon Road and Sixth Street ($10,006).
Municipalities are not required to give organizations tax exemptions. But every three years Nelson council considers applications from various community groups for exemptions, and adjudicates the requests in a private meeting.
Details of the amount of the exemptions for each organization this year can be found here.
These numbers are not yet finalized: they have received third reading at council and then will be considered for adoption at an upcoming council meeting after a formal notification (a newspaper ad) has been given to the public.
Council’s policy is that the amount of the total amount of exemptions should not exceed more than 0.5 per cent of the city’s total property tax levy. This year that would amount to $47,591, but council decided to exceed that cap for this year, allowing for exemptions of approximately $57,000 not counting city-owned properties.
One of the other issues council will consider in its review of the policy is whether, or to what degree, churches should be given exemptions, considering that in some cases they serve their own congregations and not necessarily the larger general public.
A federal government exemption means a municipality cannot tax the property churches sit on, but it can tax the property around the church, such as the yard and parking lot, which are the subject of these proposed exemptions.