Certain property tax-exempt organizations in Merritt will no longer possess that immunity after 2015 as a new permissive tax policy adopted by council in June goes into effect.

Under this new policy, not-for-profit organizations that sell liquor specific to the portion of property used for retail, and philanthropic or religious groups occupying properties more than one acre in size will no longer be completely exempt from property taxes.

Organizations subject to this change include the Merritt Golf and Country Club, Royal Canadian Legion #96, Merritt Curling Club and Nicola Valley Native Lodge Society — which hasn’t provided financial statements or proven to have services open to and used mainly by residents to meet permissive tax exemption requirements.

City of Merritt deputy financial services manager Ben Currie recommended council give notice to the organizations that will be impacted by the change that 2015 will be the last year they are property tax-exempt. They will also have the opportunity to make an appeal if they choose to change their operations to comply with the policy.

At its regular meeting last Tuesday, city council approved the first three readings of the City of Merritt’s permissive tax exemption bylaw, exempting the properties in question for one more year. Council also amended the bylaw to include Interior Community Services on the list of tax-exempt properties.

The parameters of the tax policy are used by council to consider an application from organizations providing charitable, philanthropic and not-for-profit services.

City to spend $69,000 on new utility machine

The City of Merritt public works department will be spending almost $69,000 of its 2014 budget to buy a multi-purpose utility work machine.

The new piece of equipment will allow the city to decommission a Case tractor and John Deere front mower, which are both at the end of their life cycles. Part of the deal affords the city a $5,000 credit against the purchase price of the utility vehicle for the total trade-in value of the two pieces.

The exact cost of the purchase came in slightly under budget at $68,880 plus tax.

Permissive tax exemptions changing; lead briefs

At its regular meeting last Tuesday, city council approved purchasing a mobile home at Claybanks RV Park for $44,000.

The City of Merritt owns the Claybanks RV Park, but doesn’t own the mobile home in which the park’s office is located. That trailer is owned and occupied by the park’s current contractor, who is not renewing as operator of the park.

A stipulation of the expiring contract was that this mobile home be purchased at fair market value once the contract was terminated.

Coun. Mike Goetz asked if the trailer already has CSA approval for its electrical wiring, which City of Merritt financial services manger Ken Ostraat said staff would ensure is in place before the purchase goes through.

Chief administrative officer Allan Chabot said the city agreed to a price of $44,000 and that any additional cost a CSA certification might incur would be the responsibility of the outgoing contractor and not the city.

Staff requested council retain ownership of the trailer and include it as a portion of the compensation for a new park operator.

The purchase of the trailer was not budgeted for in the 2014 budget, and the funds for it will come from the city’s reserves for future expenditures account.