Curling club eligible only for up to 40 percent tax rebate

The town has advised the Fort Frances Curling Club that the most it can do is apply for up to 40 percent in property tax relief—just like other non-profit groups here.
The club had requested late last month that the town rebate 100 percent of its taxes for this year.
Curling club president Bill Gushulak said Tuesday afternoon he was contacted by the town last week, and that the club membership still must discuss what to do next.
“At this point in time, we will be getting in contact with Ed Katona [the town’s tax administrator], but he’s out of town right now,” noted Gushulak.
“We’re going to pursue it,” he vowed. “We can give the reasons why we asked for what we did.
“We’ve had a number of people indicate support for us,” Gushulak added. “And we know what will happen if we don’t get any break.”
Gushulak said he was confident the curling club still could get significant tax relief under the charitable rebate bylaw.
“The wheels are moving now and that’s great,” he remarked. “We will not cast any shadows of doubt at this point.”
Coun. Tannis Drysdale, who sits on the Administration and Finance executive committee with Couns. Roy Avis and Todd Hamilton, said the curling club would be eligible for a rebate up to 40 percent of its taxes if it applies for relief under the bylaw.
And she stressed the club very well could qualify to get that much.
“I’m very supportive of them [the curling club] and what they do,” said Coun. Drysdale. “And we’re trying to be understanding of their unique circumstances and the fact they contribute greatly to the community.
“I personally would look forward to seeing an application from them.”
She noted the town had to stick with the 40 percent rebate cap that was established by a former council in December, 2001.
Under the Municipal Act, 2001, a municipality is able to authorize rebates up to 100 percent to qualifying local charitable organizations. But the former town administration contacted other municipalities as to what they were doing and settled on offering rebates only up to 40 percent.
In the request made to the town Aug. 30, Gushulak said the club is struggling under its current financial burden—and even had to take out a $10,000 loan to help cover its $28,000 tax bill for 2004.
The curling club still owes well over $100,000 on the building’s mortgage, and yet the curling dues here already are the highest in the district, he noted, adding the reserve funds are depleted while the building is showing its age and needs improvements.
Gushulak noted while the entire recreation budget for the town, including the arena and pool complex, is subsidized, another non-profit recreational facility—the curling club—pays its own heat, hydro, sewer and water, garbage pickup, maintenance, and taxes.
“In other words, we subsidize the rest of the community recreation budget,” he remarked at the time.
Gushulak noted the curling club has 550 regular members, and caters to numerous part-time curlers annually. It’s used by men and women’s leagues, seniors, high school and elementary school students, and Special Olympians.
The Fort Frances Curling Cub also has offered use of its facility to the Fort Frances Fire Department for an municipal emergency shelter should the need arise.