City council is unwilling to support a tax break in 2022 for the Okanagan Regional Library’s (ORL) Salmon Arm branch.
The ORL submitted an application to the city requesting consideration be given to a permissive tax exemption which, according to city staff, would amount to around $15,000.
Speaking to the application at council’s Sept. 27 meeting, city chief financial officer Chelsea Van De Capelle explained a public library would typically qualify for a statutory tax exemption as it would own the land it’s on or lease it from a municipality. The space used by the Salmon Arm branch, however, is leased from the Mall at Piccadilly, leaving ORL ineligible.
A permissive tax exemption, supported under the Community Charter, could be provided at council’s discretion. One challenge with this, Van De Capelle pointed out, is ensuring the benefit of the exemption goes to the library and not the for-profit owner.
Councillors did not support a motion to grant the exemption for 2022, but were open to receiving a future application prior to the city’s 2023 budget deliberations.
Coun. Sylvia Lindgren said she would love to see the tax exemption go through if the money stayed with the local library branch. She said the $15,000 could go a long way towards opening the library another day a week, extending current hours or offering programs people need.
“I’d be willing to entertain this again if they brought it to us with enough time and information to give it proper consideration,” said Lindgren.
Mayor Alan Harrison, however, was reluctant to support a permissive tax exemption for the library while it’s in a commercial space. He said if the city gave the exemption, city taxpayers would still be required to pay roughly $5,383 in taxes owed to the provincial government, “because we know that part is not forgiven by the provincial government.
“I don’t want to give them the idea that I would support it because I won’t when they’re in a commercial space,” said Harrison.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter