Tax break for veteran’s group approved while some Abbotsford community groups are denied

Coun. Braun calls approval process ‘picking winners and losers’

A local veteran’s group will receive a tax break for $3,500 in 2014, but requests from other community groups were denied by city council on Monday.

BC Teen Challenge, Creative Centre Rehabilitation, Visionquest Recovery Society, and a new property of Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) will not receive exemptions, which would have totalled $40,000.

Each year the city allows exemptions for groups that qualify under categories such as not-for-profit organizations, local government, athletic or service clubs and religious, private schools or revitalization.

The city has no formal policy for not-for-profit exemptions, but breaks have been granted in the past for organizations including ACS, MCC, the Northview Community Church, Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 15 and the Salvation Army.

Coun. John Smith said the A.N.A.F. Veterans in Canada’s should be granted a tax exemption, much like the Legion.

Last year, council denied their request. At that time, Coun. Henry Braun said allowing an exemption for one group is “picking winners and losers” – a point he reiterated on Monday.

The city phased out tax exemptions for non-profit groups due to concerns it would open the floodgates on requests for exemptions. Council has not approved additional exemptions in the not-for-profit category in the past five years.

Last year, Braun called for a policy on how to decide which non-profit groups receive exemptions. On Monday, he said due to the fact that two councillors were missing – who voted against the exemption last year – he would bring the issue back to council.

Among the organizations that will receive exemptions are the Abbotsford Christian School, Ledgeview properties, Khalsa Diwan Society of Abbotsford, and the Reach Gallery and Museum.

The estimated amount of taxes forgone in 2014 due to permissive tax exemptions is $1.33 million.

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