General News · 13th May 2010
Facts You Should Know from the Community Coalition Against a Service Hall Tax. We are a group of concerned Cortes Island residents that believe a Service Hall Tax is the wrong way to finance the community halls. We are not against supporting the “halls”, but we are against a property tax to finance them. We have put together this list of facts with volunteer efforts (not tax dollars) to counter rumors and keep you informed. Please take your time and ponder our collection.
The facts we have gathered, unless otherwise stated, are accessible on the Strathcona Regional District website, or from extensive research by Regional Districts' personnel - information available to the public.
SCCA Funding Proposal to the SRD for Taxpayer Based Funding
149 Page Report September 22, 2009 (this report was paid for from Cortes taxes)
GIA = Grants in Aid (already supported by taxes)
Core Tax Funding Bylaw = tax based funding e.g. Bylaw 55 rejected in Feb/10 by Cortes Isl.
SRD = Strathcona Regional District ("The borders extend from the Oyster River in the South to Gold River, Sayward, Tahsis, Zebellos, and Kyuquot-Nootka in the north and west, and then east to take in Cortes, Quadra, and the Discovery Islands, and a portion of the mainland north of Powell River.")
CRD = Capital Regional District (municipalities of south Van. Island)
BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch
WCC and SCCA AGM, budgets
FACT - This tax process is proceeding on the advice of the executive of two community “clubs” to our Regional Director
FACT - In January / February 2009, people from Cortes were shocked when they found out that Bylaw 55 had progressed through three readings, but there had been NO public consultation into that Bylaw. The people of Cortes rallied and defeated this voting procedure with 221 votes against the Bylaw. Only 99 were needed.
FACT - Director Anderson was elected with 235 votes.
FACT – Yet, less than a month later, on March 15, 2010, the executive of the WCC wrote the Regional Board to start the process to re-write Bylaw 55 because they , the executive of the WCC, had a “ firm belief that there is significant community support for this service”.
FACT - They had not consulted their members about “support” before writing this letter.
FACT –Since June 2009 the executive of the WCC has met 7 times to discuss core tax funding.
FACT – The SCCA Board wrote to the Regional Board on March 25th asking the Regional Board to start the process and stating “The SCCA believes there is sufficient community support in principle for a community hall service tax”.
FACT - They also did no formal canvassing of their membership to determine this.
FACT – There has been no formal survey of Cortes Island residents concerning a costly referendum ( $5000 of taxpayer money), yet with tax money we have had surveys on housing and water sources.
FACT – The upcoming WCC and SCCA meetings are to discuss core funding options – not a vote by membership to see if they even agree to financing by property taxes.
FACT – Our Regional Director, Noba Anderson, has not held a meeting for open public consultation to discuss Core Tax Funding with her constituents since she decided to proceed with the concept in early 2009. The first opportunity the public has to discuss this issue is on June 2.
FACT – Tax based core funding will require all property owners to support a “Club” or “Association” that they may not belong to or use.
FACT – No other alternatives have been attempted by the SCCA to raise money to cover their operating costs.
FACT – Any association or group on Cortes Island can ask for financing through a Service Tax attached to property taxes. They only have to present their request to our Regional Director and say they believe there is strong community support….and then a new bylaw referendum process proceeds.
FACT – If this Service Tax goes to a referendum, any Canadian citizen 18 years or older who has been a resident of Cortes Island for 1 month may vote on this issue, move on with their lives and possibly leave the property owners with this burden.
FACT - Halls on Vancouver Island and South Gulf Islands NOT receiving core tax funding are: Read Island, Merville, Fanny Bay, Bowser, Pender Island, Saturna Island, Mayne Island, Galliano Island, Minto, and most halls within the Capital Regional District(CRD) (The Pender Island Community Hall is worth looking at. It can be found on line. Its structure, fees for events, etc. could be a guideline for Cortes Island Hall Societies to follow.)
FACT - This is what the SCCA told you
• "In 2007 the SCCA Board applied for Core Tax Funding from the Comox Strathcona Regional District. Unfortunately this did not go forward for 2008 but we are assured that it will be available for 2010. Almost without exception community halls in the Regional District receive core funding from the tax base. Tax based core funding more fairly puts the costs of community hall services on all land owners.” (from the President’s Report in the SCCA Annual Report 2009)
• "The Community halls on Cortes Island are UNIQUE in British Columbia in that they are not supported by regional district, municipal or city property tax based funds." (SCCA Funding Proposal to the Regional Board)
FACT – Tax based core funding for community halls is unfair to property owners as they will take on the burden of support for these halls while all residents would benefit.
FACT – This is what the SCCA believes. “Tax based core funding more fairly puts the costs of community hall services on all land owners."(President’s Report in the SCCA Annual Report 2009)
FACT - The disparity between who can vote vs. who will pay is guaranteed to be problematic. It is effectively taxation without representation and representation without taxation. The argument that renters will pay their share, as property owners pass on the cost through higher rents, is specious; Cortes is overbuilt, property values can go down. Rent is elastic, taxes less so.
FACT – Our “incomplete” tallies of money from grants and foundations alone , to the SCCA for a 4 year period from ’06 to ’10, totaled over $300 000. This does not include other incomes ( rent, dues, user fees, and other grants and donations)
FACT - There has been little effort to raise money in the accepted and traditional way on Cortes Island - by fund raising activities. Last year the SCCA raised $50; the WCC raised $2203.
FACT – WCC fundraising budgeting amounts for 2010 to 2014 are; $2,203, $2,300 $2,346; $2,484.
FACT - The SCCA has put a sum of $2000 in their budget for fundraising for 2011. This clearly shows that the spirit of volunteerism has been removed from the Manson's Hall. The radio station raises between $10,000 and $12,000 each year through their fund raising efforts. With a little effort, why couldn’t the SCCA increase their fundraising efforts and eliminate the need for a tax.
FACT - The SCCA say they need funding to make repairs to their hall and or they might have to close their doors. Yet they have not tried any other avenues such as fund raising or other forms of community outreach. The SCCA minutes show that they have had knowledge of their financial problems for many years but have not asked the community for support or cut back on expenditures, or set up a contingency fund.
FACT - The same people that spend $5000 on two doors - when they indicate they need major re-vitalization work done on the hall itself - will be spending your tax dollars raised from a proposed hall service tax.
FACT - The SCCA has budgeted for 2011 to employ a hall manager, a programs manager, an accountant, a bookkeeper and a cleaning person. Their wages total $60,320. This alone is an increase of $40 685 from last year. These are jobs that historically were done on a volunteer basis.
FACT – The WCC also is hiring for jobs traditionally done by the executive or volunteers. It paid a bookkeeper (treasurer) $1350 in ’09 / ‘10 and a hall “manager” $1800.
FACT - The SCCA has been receiving tax deductible donations. The Ramsey Family and Foundation made donations in 2008 of $14,593 and in 2009 of $32,974. The Tides Foundation donated in 2007 $20,265 and in 2006 $37,992.
FACT - The SCCA already receives tax support. In 2009 they received a Regional District Grant of $7125, 2008 - $5584 (incl. revenue deferred from previous year) for maintenance of the Play court (Skate Board Park). The Grant for play court maintenance is ongoing.
FACT - The WCC and the SCCA each received a GIA totaling $2700 in 2009.
FACT - The SCCA was awarded a GIA of $13 000 for 2010. So far the WCC has not applied for one for 2010.
FACT – The halls are budgeting for BOTH Core Funding Tax AND GIA which breaches the following GIA guideline. “Grants should not be used to augment tax funded functions, i.e.: volunteer fire departments, community halls, etc when the grant request is for a service or item that is included in the establishment bylaw for that specific local service area;”
FACT - The SCCA in particular runs not just a hall, but a mall that rents space – at very beneficial rates to a list of private enterprises and interest groups. A tax would simply subsidize these renters. C.I. Radio, Reel Youth, FOCI, VI Regional Library, Cortes Ecoforestry Society, CI Pottery Guild, Teen Szene, Cortes Café, Wildstands. They also provide space to North Island College and Canada Post on a lease agreement.
FACT - The WCC, in 2009, ran at a loss of $10,393. The 2010 budget indicates a loss of $8,768. It appears that the WCC has drifted into deficit financing with a reliance on grant funding. Smaller numbers but same basic practices as the SCCA.
FACT - Total Grant Revenue amounts to the WCC are 2009 $17,700; 2010 $15,557; budgeted for 2011 $22,364; 2014 $23,679. Which means the WCC plans on receiving grants/taxes for 50% of its annual budget on an ongoing basis.
FACT - The SCCA lost its Gaming Grant – they say it is because they did not spend certain amounts of the Grant in the appropriate allocated time frame – and they didn’t. The SCCA knew what the rules were to get the grant in the first place, so they cannot blame anyone but themselves for not following the clearly defined rules for a grant. It is also interesting to note that the Gaming Commission asked for proper financial reporting and bookkeeping procedures going back to 2006, 2007, & 2008. They clearly state in their letter to the SCCA that “Failure to submit the requested information may jeopardize future grant funding”. Yet the SCCA still show $34,000 Gaming Grant money on their income budgets for the next 5 years.
FACT - The Gaming Commission amounts awarded to the SCCA for the years 2006-2009 inclusive: $30,253; $40,296; $35,102; $34,404
FACT – We are in a recession.
FACT - This tax will put unnecessary burdens on many people who simply cannot afford any new taxes and still maintain a basic lifestyle they want on this island.
FACT –In order to increase tax rates, core tax funding by-laws can be amended and changed in the future by a referendum.
FACT – Core tax funding by-laws are rarely repealed
FACT - The Canadian government is telling its citizens to watch their spending and pay down their debt. ( CTV News – April )
FACT - The Fraser Institute news release states: “The Canadian Consumer Tax Index 2010, which calculates the total tax bill of the average Canadian family, found that taxes have increased by a whopping 1,624 percent (yes that is 1,624%) since 1961. Taxes have become the most significant item that Canadian consumers now face in their budgets.
FACT - Tax Freedom Day in Canada was June 6th in 2009. That means we worked for 157 days to pay off our TAX burden in Canada. For comparison, the UK took 134 days, Australia took 112 days, India took 74 days, and the USA took 99 days
FACT - We already pay 23 different taxes on Cortes: Income Tax(federal and provincial); PST & GST - soon to become the HST ( a tax increase); Administration and General Government Tax; Grant's in Aid Tax; Planning; Feasibility Study; Regional Feasibility Study - Area B; Search and Rescue; Strathcona Emergency Program; Liquid Waste Management (recommended); 911 Answering Service; Refuse Disposal Grounds; Refuse Collection; Electoral Areas Expenditure & Elections Service; House Numbering; Community Parks; Vancouver Island Regional Library; Fire Service; Regional Hospital; School; Fuel; Carbon; Ferry Fares
We are a group of concerned Cortes Island residents who believe a property tax system is the wrong way to fund community halls on our rural island. If you want to join us in this effort to stop a core funding hall service tax, please contact us.
e-mail at againsthalltaxgmail.com
or writing to us at any of the following addresses
Community Coalition Against a Service Hall Tax
Squirrel Cove, B.C.
Community Coalition Against a Service Hall Tax
Mansons Landing, B.C.
Community Coalition Against a Service Hall Tax