The Tartan and Highland curling clubs are hoping to get another break on property taxes after a meeting at Regina City Hall Tuesday afternoon.
The finance and administration committee voted to approve a recommendation for a two-year partial tax exemption for the curling clubs.
Wes Czarnecki, the general manager at the Tartan Curling Club, says both clubs were approved for partial tax exemptions for the last two years. This would be an extension to allow them more time to work on a sustainable business model.
“For the past couple years, it’s been hard to make a go of it with the curling industry,” he explained. “We’re seeing some of the membership numbers decline a little bit and (we’re) just trying to find a way to balance that against managing fees for our curlers and customers.”
He points out that the curling clubs are at a bit of a disadvantage because they don’t get the automatic full tax exemption that city-owned facilities do.
“The difference with the curling clubs is – for the Tartan and the Highland in particular – we own the land and the facilities, and the facilities haven’t been classified, I guess, properly as sporting facilities,” Czarnecki explained. “So we found our property taxes in previous years, I want to say, tripled within the span of about a five-year period. So that was definitely a challenge for our businesses.”
In Regina, the Caledonian Curling Club is already included in the Properties Exempt from Tax Bylaw under a 99-year lease agreement. In 2016, the value of that club’s tax exemption was estimated at $56,300.
Czarnecki said under the terms of the two-year partial exemption, the Highland and Tartan curling clubs still pay the portion of property taxes that go towards schools and libraries, but are exempt from the remaining amount.
According to the recommendation filed with the city, the Tartan Curling Club would owe $17,156 in municipal taxes this year and the Highland Curling Club would owe $11,051. The total loss to the city for tax revenue over two years would add up to about $56,414.
Coun. Wade Murray is the chair of the finance and administration committee. He said they passed the recommendation with amendments that the curling clubs provide more information about their current financial status when the motion is brought to city council.
“We’d like to know more about where they are financially so that as we go forward we know that these tax exemptions are properly being brought forward,” Murray said.
He added that the Highland and Tartan curling clubs are also expected to offer more detail about the possibility of amalgamating as one non-profit organization in the future to become more sustainable.
He said councillors understand the competitive disadvantage to sports facilities that are not run by the city when they don’t have a property tax exemption.
“But at the end of the day, there are assets out there that need to be paying their fare share of taxation because the tax base that we have is what funds all those things we do.”
While $28,000 is not a significant amount of tax dollars to miss out on per year, Murray noted that it still does need to be recovered in some way by other taxpayers.