City council has decided to write off the taxes of a struggling seniors’ group while it plans to pursue outstanding revenue from a sports committee that helped organize the 2020 Scotties.
During a recent executive committee meeting, council voted to abate the municipal portion of this year’s property tax at 510 Main Street North, which includes the Moose Jaw and District Senior Citizens Association; the taxes are worth $$39,884.21.
Furthermore, council decided to use this year’s municipal tax revenue to fund the write-off, while it agreed to amend the purchase and sales agreement from Jan. 1, 2022 between the City of Moose Jaw and Moose Jaw Non-Profit Housing Corporation (MJNPHC) to include the reduction for 2022 and 2023 to 2026.
Association members spoke to city council during an in-camera — behind-closed-doors — meeting several months ago about their economic plight, which is how this decision came about.
Meanwhile, council voted to write off $50,000 in accounts receivable for the 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts bid that it advanced to the now-defunct Downtown Facility and Fieldhouse Inc. (DFFH). Instead, it will pursue through collections the $50,000 advance money it gave to the Scotties bid committee/Curl Moose Jaw Inc.
Council officially approved the motions relating to the two groups during its May 23 regular meeting.
During a media scrum afterward, Mayor Clive Tolley explained that the seniors’ groups at the Timothy Eaton Gardens and Cosmo Centre have been struggling to pay their bills for the past few years. Both approached council during the last two budget discussions asking for financial support so they could keep their doors open.
“And I noticed that the … Eaton’s group, they have been doing a lot of fundraising and special events (lately) and I applaud them for that,” he said. “They’re trying to solve their own problems.”
Tolley was on city council 30 years ago and recalled that the intention with the creation of the Timothy Eaton Centre was if a private business existed in the building, it would pay taxes on its portion. However, the non-profit housing corporation upstairs and the seniors’ activities and dining room downstairs would not have to pay property taxes.
The City of Moose Jaw used to own unit 1 in a two-owner/two-unit condo corporation at 510 Main Street North, while Moose Jaw Non-Profit Housing Corporation used to own unit 2.
At one point, the corporation owned 45.52 per cent of the property that housed low-income seniors’ apartments. The city-owned a 54.48-per-cent share and leased all of unit 1 to the seniors’ association, Vision Travel and IG Wealth Management.
However, in November 2021, city council voted to complete a conditional purchase and sale agreement with the corporation for the municipality’s share of unit 1 for $1, commencing Jan. 1, 2022. The corporation was then supposed to take on the existing lease agreements with the tenants.
The purchase and sales agreement included a five-year exemption from municipal taxes worth $40,000 annually that would go into effect in 2022. This exemption was subject to the Moose Jaw and District Senior Citizens Association remaining a tenant.
The three main tenants were expected to remain under the new agreement, while Moose Jaw Housing Authority would look after the building’s operations and maintenance. Meanwhile, the city would not have to contribute any funding to repairs and renovations that the building required in the future.
Meanwhile, with the pursuit of the Scotties’ money, Tolley explained that the agreement with the committee was the latter would share any profits generated with the municipality. Since that apparently didn’t happen, the city wants to collect the advance bid.
“The DFFH is disbanded and we would be going after ourselves because we now own the building,” he added. “It’s (now) being operated on a contract by OVG360.”