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City finalizes tax exemptions

My Mountain Co-op is getting a city tax break this year but the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce  isn’t, council has decided in setting out tax exemptions for the 2013 budget year.

The co-op, a non-profit which runs the Shames Mountain ski facility, is now exempt from paying $1,275 in property taxes connected to the use of office space in the city-owned Kwinitsa Station House and in paying $403 in school and other municipal  taxes.

But for the first time, the local chamber of commerce is not exempt. The city opted instead to waive only a portion of its property taxes as 70 per cent of its building is occupied by the city-financed visitor info centre and Kermodei Tourism.

The city grants the Kermodei Tourism Society $120,000 yearly and the society runs the visitor info centre.

The 70 per cent tax exemption  amounts to $5,425 in city taxes and $1,716 in other municipal taxes.

The rationale behind only providing a portion of an exemption this year compared to last is that the chamber has started charging the visitor info centre market value rent for the space it uses.

“This year, we negotiated a lease with the city on behalf of Kermodei Tourism that got the chamber fair market value for rent,” said the chamber’s executive director Carol Fielding.

Market value rent is $10.50 per square foot, said Fielding, adding that in former years the chamber ran the visitor info centre.

“I think the rationale is correct that [if] they’re charging market rate lease to the city, they would no longer qualify for a tax exemption,” said councillor James Cordeiro about council’s rationale.

Additionally, he said council thought it was inappropriate to be giving a tax break to a business organization that lobbies city council on behalf of its members.

“Basically, to be eligible for a tax exemption you have to be a non-business organization,

you have to fit within the city mandate and have a financial need,” said the city’s finance director Ron Bowles in laying out the criteria council looks at when making decisions.

Terrace’s Little Theatre was also added to the city’s list of permissive tax exemptions this year at $4,450 for city taxes and $1,407.

The value of this year’s tax exemptions approved by council is $267,418 and $92,157 in other municipal taxes like hospital and school.

Organizations on that list include, the Terrace Curling Association, Women’s Auxiliary to

Hospital, Terrace Elks, Terrace Child Development Centre, Kermode Friendship Society, Terrace Kitimat Airport Society, Ksan House Society, TEDA, Seventh-day Adventists at the All Nations Centre, Terrace Beautification Society, Terrace Little Theatre Society and the Salvation Army.

While more properties in Terrace are also exempt, places of worship, hospitals, seniors homes and the direct airport building and its runway are exempt automatically at a level higher than the city.

It was discussed in the meeting, however, why some non-profits are exempt and why some aren’t.

Councillor Stacey Tyers asked why Terrace’s Legion wasn’t added this year.

She said legion president Les Sinnott was working on the legion application before he passed away suddenly in a car crash earlier this year.

All the money goes back into the community as a non-profit, she added.

The legion does have a bar and does rent out its facility even though it’s a non-profit, said Bowles.

About 50 per cent of municipalities let their legions be tax exempt, he said.

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