by Colin Smith
Only one non-profit organization in Morinville would be eligible for a municipal property tax exemption if a bylaw amendment before Town Council passes as it stands.
Council gave first reading to the Non-Profit Organizations Tax Exemption Bylaw Amendment at its regular meeting Tuesday.
The bylaw sets out the conditions under which Morinville non-profit organizations that own property may be exempted from the municipal portion of property tax.
The amendment is required to include a schedule naming the organizations now eligible for the exemption.
Currently the only organization listed in the schedule is the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation, which operates a shelter for individuals affected by domestic abuse.
Four other organizations applied for the tax exemption: the McCauley Daycare for its two locations, Tiny Tots Preschool, and the Morinville Legion.
The first two were ruled ineligible by tax assessor Ray Crews. The Legion does not appear on the schedule because it is already exempt from tax under the Municipal Government Act–that is for its main building, while it does pay tax on its restaurant and bar area.
Granting of municipal tax exemptions is subject to the Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Regulation.
To qualify under the regulation an organization must be non-profit and provide a benefit to the general public of the community.
In a presentation at the beginning of the Council meeting, Tiny Tots board chair Tasha Tappauf stated that the preschool is a non-profit organization that is open to all.
“I am curious about why our non-profit organization is being charged property taxes,” she said.
In the case of Tiny Tots the taxes are only for the trailer that is used as the preschool. The land on which it sits is leased from the Town at a minimal rate.
Replying to a Councillor’s question, Crews said he hadn’t been made aware that Tiny Tots was non-profit.
He also pointed out that it is up to Council’s discretion whether or not to grant tax-exempt status under the Community Organization Property Tax Exemption regulation.
Exemptions only cover the municipal portion of the tax. Property owners are still responsible for the Education and Homeland Housing portions of the tax.
An amendment to the amendment, granting Tiny Tots the tax-exemption, appears likely to be moved at Second Reading.