Many people who are involved with the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #260-100 Mile House are disappointed the canteen has been closed due to financial difficulties.
Legion president Bob Wangensteen and other longtime members say they believe the District of 100 Mile House has added to the difficulties because it would not exempt the Legion from having to pay municipal taxes – upwards of $6,000 annually.
Wangensteen says the Legion is being treated like the private businesses in town that are being taxed for operating an establishment that sells liquor, when the Legion is a “service club.”
“Yes, they serve alcoholic beverages in the place, but you have to pay for a membership, he says.
He adds the other licensed premises in town are there “100 per cent for profit,” whereas the Legions are not.
“The financial situation is such that the municipal taxes were really hindering [the Legion] and pulling it down because it don’t make the money in [the whole operation] to pay the taxes.”
Wangensteen complains he and other Legion executive members have met with the District, but they haven’t been able to get a tax exemption.
“They tell us we’re too late or we’re too early….”
District chief administrative officer Roy Scott says there have been meetings with Legion representatives.
“Although the Legion has appeared as a delegation to council to make a case for tax exemption consideration, at no time was a formal application submitted to the District when the District advertised for application intake.”
Scott notes the Legion property is listed as Class 6 (business) and class 1 (residential – upstairs apartment) property, according to BC Assessment.
He notes the District has advised Legion members to appeal to BC Assessment to change all or a portion of their property to Class 8 (non-profit), which would qualify the property for tax exemption. “However, there wouldn’t be any guarantees [it would get an exemption from the District], but it would at least qualify.”
Wangensteen points to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #261-Forest Grove, which receives a tax exemption.
However, that Legion is run entirely by volunteers, with no paid staff, and the Cariboo Regional District is providing the tax exemption.
Scott notes the 100 Mile House Legion purchases a business licence to operate a bar annually, and it’s the same licence any other liquor establishment obtains within the District boundaries.
The bottom line is when an organization is consistently operating at a deficit of $35,000 [plus or minus], the municipal taxes would account for anywhere from 10 to 20 per cent of that shortfall – depending on the level of exemption.