Aspengrove School has rejoined the ranks of Lantzville’s tax-exempt properties.
Lantzville politicians were near-unanimous Monday in adopting a bylaw that gives the independent school a $5,980 tax break, the largest the district will grant next year.
While a potential new B.C. bill, waiting on royal assent, could change the rules around tax exemptions, municipalities currently have the right to decide whether to give tax breaks to school playgrounds and parking lots. Last year council denied the school a tax break, but agreed to put it back on the list for 2016 in a 6-1 vote.
Dr. Drew Digny, chairman of the Aspengrove school board, presented to council Monday, pointing out that the school has a community-use agreement, is Lantzville’s largest employer, and tries to be a good neighbour. Aspengrove also has plans for a sports field, gym space and performing arts facility in the future.
“A strong, internationally recognized independent school is one of the best tax revenue generators Lantzville could ever hope for,” he said. “We’d like to change our conversation to be one that’s forward-looking and find mutual benefits that working together can bring to our community.”
Coun. Will Geselbracht said he was prepared to vote against the exemption because he doesn’t believe in using public money for private institutions but he hopes for a new dialogue with the school. Coun. Mark Swain said for each resident it’s about $1.66 per year and $3.89 per year for each household. He’s happy to shell out that money to put the community on the map.
Only Coun. Dot Neary was opposed.
“Next year this will probably be a moot point because it will be a statutory exemption and it will go ahead regardless,” she said, referring to the provincial bill. “I don’t think that independent schools should be supported in this matter through the public purse.”
Other organizations that will get a tax exemption next year include St. Philip’s by-the-Sea Anglican Church and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 257.