A new policy could give non-profit organizations in Valemount a break on their property taxes.

A place of public worship and the property it stands on are normally exempt from property taxes if it is owned or leased by an active religious organization. The new policy will allow Council to consider granting partial or full property tax exemptions to a wider range of organizations, based on financial ability and the benefit and use of the organization to the community.

The new policy states “A permissive tax exemption, provided under Section 224 of the Community Charter, is a means for Council to support organizations within the community that further Council’s vision of Striving for a Vibrant and Balanced Community.” It recognizes the value to our community of the programs and services provided by many organizations.

The policy sets out a consistent application process which will ensure that any organization applying for exemption meets all eligibility requirements. Council will not be required to grant exemptions except those legislated in the Community Charter, but can choose to consider exemptions if the property’s primary use meets the goals of Council for the community. There are a number of requirements to qualify for consideration. The organization must be a registered owner or be a tenant under a lease that requires it to pay taxes directly to the Village; it must be a registered charity or non-profit society; Valemount residents must be the primary recipients of its services; it must provide a service supporting the social, spiritual, cultural, educational or physical well”being of the community; and a number of other requirement.

The policy also stipulates that empty lots near a place of worship, and vacant lots held for future use or investment by a religious organization will not be exempt.

Organizations must apply for exemption each year, but will receive an application form for the following year automatically if an exemption was granted in the previous year. Financial statements from the previous three years are required with the application, except in cases where the Village already has previous years’ statements.

Barb Shepherd, President of the Lion’s Club says it’s a great thing, and notes the club will definitely be applying for the exemption. The Village also expects the Curling Club and the Legion could both qualify. Mayor Andru McCracken noted that all three of these organizations have licensed areas, which may be a consideration in their elegibility.

Any exemptions granted will have an effect on the tax revenue pool for the Village, but McCracken feels any impact for 2014 will be minimal, especially with some new buildings that are expected to generate tax revenue for the Village next year.

The normal deadline for application will be June 30th each year, but the initial deadline has been extended to August 30th, 2013, since the policy was not approved until the August 13th Council Meeting.

By: Korie Marshall