March 18, 2013
By Kevin Weedmark
Moosomin town council has tabled for two weeks a decision on a tax cancellation for the Armoury Hall.
The Society for the Preservation of the Moosomin Armoury has requested a tax cancellation for 2014.
Council has already cancelled taxes for 2013 for the Armoury and several other community groups-the Community Theatre, the Moosomin Museum, and the Pipestone Kin-Ability Centre.
Some properties, such as the Legion and churches, are tax exempt by law, while some buildings, such as the bowling alley and curling rink, do not pay taxes because they are on town land.
Council has already turned down a request from the Food Bank and Thrift Store for a tax cancellation for 2014, and councillors have been discussing coming up with a common approach to all such requests.
Because two councillors were away at Wednesday's meeting, the decision on the Armoury Committee's request was tabled to the March 27 meeting.
"We want it to be equal and fair for everybody," Mayor Larry Tomlinson said.
"We don't want to hurt any groups or put them in jeopardy, but we want a fair system and a level playing field for everybody."
Councillor Heather Truman has been looking into what other towns do for charitable organizations.
She said Thursday that the vast majority of towns she has contacted have never cancelled property taxes for charitable organizations.
"No one has the situation we do except Weyburn, because no one else was cancelling taxes," Truman said. "I called towns in Manitoba, I called Yorkton, Indian Head, Carlyle, Estevan, Weyburn, and no one else gives these cancellations.
"What Weyburn did in order to alleviate the problem is they gave a grant.
"Those that were paying no property taxes had to apply for a grant, and over the years, the grant was phased out."
Truman said councillors have been discussing what to do with tax cancellations because they want to have an even playing field for everyone.
For 2013 the town cancelled taxes on four properties-the Community Theatre, the Moosomin Museum, the Kin-Ability Centre and the Armoury Hall. Current applications are for 2014 cancellations.
Truman said councillors are concerned there may be more and more organizations asking for tax cancellations.
"Once you know someone else doesn't pay taxes, you don't want to pay taxes either," she said.
"I see a problem coming down the road if we don't do something.
"If we change to a grant system, and phase it out over a few years, everyone should be able to prepare for it.
"The problem right now is that some groups don't pay taxes and some do. These are people who are volunteers working toward things that benefit the whole town, but it's hard to be fair with this system-where do you draw the line?
"We're trying to get everyone on an even playing field."
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