Curling club asking for tax write-off

FORT FRANCES—Experiencing financial burdens and unable to pay its realty taxes since mid-2004, the Fort Frances Curling Club is asking the Town of Fort Frances to write-off all its taxes owing to date.
In a report to council, Treasurer Laurie Witherspoon said the curling club, as of Oct. 5, 2006, owes the town $71,802.32 (total taxes, plus penalties and interest owing), and has approached the Administration and Finance executive committee asking the town write off all those taxes owing.
She added that, in accordance with Bylaw No. 32/03 (a bylaw to provide tax relief for eligible charities and similar organizations), the curling club is eligible for tax relief for the 2006 taxation year, but must apply on or before Feb. 28, 2007 for a 40 percent rebate of 2006 taxes.
Along with its request to the town to write-off the taxes owing, the curling club submitted a financial information package, as well as some points providing the rationale behind its request.
Several of these points include:
•the curling club has more than 500 members, including about 75 juniors and 100 seniors;
•the curling club has been a self-sufficient organization for 107 years, providing a much-needed recreational facility for the community;
•the new curling club cost $1.8 million to build in 1992 and since then club members have paid more than $300,000 in municipal and educational taxes (had they been responsible for only half of this, there would be no need to request tax relief now);
•according to the Canadian Curling Association survey of all Canadian curling clubs in 2004, only 38 percent of them pay taxes (of that 38 percent, only four percent pay more than $30,000 in taxes);
•the curling club offers bar and dining services to its members and caters to outside groups for banquets, meetings, and trade shows (the Memorial Sports Centre also caters to outside groups for banquets, meetings, and trade shows);
•the curling club members volunteer time and services to minimize operational costs (would this be the same in a town-operated facility?); and
•prime time ice at the curling club generates $360/hr (at $360/hr for prime time ice which is always full, the club can’t pay its taxes. But if they doubled their fees in order to pay these taxes, it would likely decrease membership).
Upon recommendation from the Administration and Finance executive committee, council agreed to refer the request for tax relief to the 2007 budget process for consideration.
(Fort Frances Times)