FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John City Council approved a plan to change tax exemptions for local non-profits.

Each year, local non-profits apply to the City of Fort St. John to waive their property taxes. Not only does the City waive the municipal portion of the taxes, but it has also been paying the property taxes a non-profit owes to the local school district and Regional District.

The City of Fort St. John is legislated to collect taxes on behalf of other organizations. In Fort St. John, the following organizations receive a portion of the amount paid through property taxes.

Starting on January 1, 2021, local non-profits, will need to pay 50 percent of the taxes owed to these agencies. Then in 2022, non-profits will need to pay 100 percent.

The City will also only cover up to 75 percent of the municipal property tax portion. This will be phased in over five years, with a 5 percent reduction per year starting on January 1, 2023.

On top of this change, the City will also deny non-profits that lease property from applying for the permissive tax exemption.

Non-profits applying for a permissive tax exemption will also have to make a presentation to Council. The City will schedule more Committee of the Whole meetings to allow organizations to present their request and provide updated information about the organization’s activites in the community.

Applications for 2021 permissive tax exemptions have been extended until July 15, 2020.

In 2019, the City granted just over $500,000 in tax exemptions to 32 organizations.

Community Foundation

Council continues their work on creating a Community Foundation that will handle property tax exemptions moving forward.

A community foundation invests funds and uses the proceeds to support local community groups and local community priorities.

When the Foundation starts, the City will at first provide funding to the Foundation to help non-profits pay property taxes. Non-profits will have to apply to the Foundation instead of City Hall to receive the funding.

Council hopes that the Foundation will be able to fund its self through investments and corporate donations.

On top of the money the City traditionally spends on permissive tax exemptions and grant-in-aid requests, the Foundation will be funded by Site C.

Over the next 70 years, the City will receive approximately $58 million from B.C. Hydro and the Site C project. This funding will provide the base investment for the community foundation.