Tax breaks for the Langley Food Bank and the Penny Pincher Thrift Shop operated by Langley Memorial Hospital auxiliary were unanimously approved by Langley City council, with one member of council suggesting the way exemptions are handled ought to be reviewed.
At the Monday, Oct. 18 meeting, Coun. Gayle Martin noted the decision would bring the total amount of forgiven taxes to $423,000, which works out to a 1.35 per cent increase to the annual property tax levy.
“I think we should be taking a more serious look at this,” Martin cautioned.
“The bottom line is our taxpayers, they’re the ones paying for it.”
Martin would like to see the city take a closer look at exemptions, suggesting adjustments could be made that would free up money to give other groups tax breaks, as well.
As an example, Martin cited churches, which are entitled to a 100 per cent exemption under the law, but not their parking lots, which could instead be granted a partial exemption.
Coun. Nathan Pachal noted adding the food bank and hospital auxiliary, along with Inclusion Langley’s offices and Encompass Support Services, worked out to about a quarter of one per cent increase.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace acknowledged the forgiven tax revenue was “a lot” of money, but would help the community.
“I think we’re doing a good thing,” Wallace commented.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom, who has been arguing for a food bank tax exemption for years, noted the Langley Food Bank was the only one operating in the Lower Mainland that pays property taxes.
Storteboom called the move “long overdue.”
Mayor Val van den Broek agreed.
“I think it’s the right time,” van den Broek remarked.
Council also approved a continuation of previously-approved exemptions for other properties, including several churches, the Salvation Army Gateway of Hope shelter, Langley Lawn Bowling Club, Langley Care Society which operates the Langley Lodge seniors facility and a non-profit Montessori school.
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