No tax hikes for Langley City churches, charities

Faced with a wall of opposition, City council dropped the plan.

A series of passionate speeches – and a packed Langley City council chamber – swiftly derailed a proposed tax hike on non-profits Monday night.

Langley City council was set to consider a motion on a Permissive Property Tax Exemption Strategy.

The motion would have gradually increased taxes on 20 local religious groups and non-profit service organizations.

After hearing from the public, Councillor Rudy Storteboom moved the motion. “For discussion,” he emphasized.

No one else even seconded the motion, thus killing the idea and leaving the tax exemptions in place.

The prominent local religious and charity leaders and local volunteers marshaled powerful arguments for more than an hour before the non-vote. They discussed how the change could lead them to cut programs that serve the less fortunate, and spend more time raising money instead of working with the poor, disabled, and socially isolated in the Langleys.

Here are some of the most memorable quotes:

• “The added tax burden could force us to close our doors and cease operations.” Rev. Paula Porter Leggett, St. Andrew’s Church.

• “At the churches in Langley, you can get a knock on the door at any time, and the door is opened.” Father Lawrence Donnelly, St. Joseph’s Church.

• “We are all organizations that have been asked to do more with less.” Shannon Todd-Booth, Langley Hospice Society.

• “Donors will not donate if the funds raised are for property taxes.” Deborah Hauptman, CEO of Langley Lodge.

• “I’d like to think that in the long run, Langley was more than just a place to be, it was a place to belong.” Dan Collins, executive director of the Langley Association for Community Living.

• “You have struck at my heart.” Elizabeth Barrett, local volunteer.

Churches and other buildings are tax exempt. But the City was considering taxing non-church portions of land, such as parking lots, playgrounds, and landscaped areas.

The City also exempts land it leases to charities from property taxes. Those groups include the Langley Community Music School, the Langley Seniors Resource Society, Langley Community Services, Stepping Stone, and the Salvation Army.

If approved, the measure would have slowly increased tax rates on most of the buildings. City-managed buildings including the Community Police Office would have been exempt.

The idea was proposed to reduce the overall tax burden.

 

Langley Advance