The city currently exempts 2.19 per cent of its annual tax revenues, a total of around $318,000 in foregone income. A policy brought forward by city staff would cap exemptions at one per cent of revenues, or around $159,299.
That would mean more money in the city coffers, but it could be mortal blow to certain non-profits.
The issue dates back to 2012, when council under then-Mayor Mike Bernier pushed for a review of its exemptions policy to see how Dawson Creek compared to other cities.
“The outcome of that review was that we were more generous than many other municipalities, so council directed we develop a policy that would see a phase out (of permissive tax exemptions),” Chief Administrative Officer Jim Chute said, noting Dawson Creek exempts more groups than other B.C. cities its size.
While some cities exempt up to six per cent of their property tax levy, others exempted just under one per cent.
Chute noted the City of Fort St. John is currently reviewing its permissive tax exemption policies.
For Bethel Pentecostal Church, a change in policy could mean a surprise tax bill of $15,000. Rev. Shawn Robillard said that could force the church to close Networks Ministries—a free store and food bank operated by the church. Mountain Christian Principal Eva Hutchinson said the school would have to raise tuition to cover property taxes, while Dawson Creek golf course representatives said property taxes would mean higher membership fees and the potential closure of the club.