Temporary tax-relief plan for daycares tabled for budget night

Colleen Schmidt, a board member of the Cathedral Area Co-operative Daycare, is seen in this file photo. She welcomes the temporary plan but would have preferred a full exemption. TROY FLEECE / REGINA LEADER-POST

Regina’s daycares will be paying close attention at this month’s budget meeting, with a plan for temporary tax relief now on the table.

Council’s executive committee referred the plan to the Dec. 17 meeting, after Ward 1 Coun. Barbara Young proposed it as a “placeholder” until a long-term solution gets worked out by 2020.

Five of Regina’s non-profit daycares saw their taxes spike in 2016, after they were classified as commercial properties. They’ve been pushing for tax exemptions ever since. Young’s proposal would see their taxes reduced by 40 per cent for two years under certain conditions. It would be sufficient to return their taxes to the equivalent of a residential rate.

The solution is one of three tax options included in a report that came to council’s executive committee on Wednesday.

Budget night will see daycares competing for a limited pool of resources in tight economic times. But City Manager Chris Holden pointed out that the temporary plan will only cost the city about $41,600 per year. That amounts to a 0.02-per-cent mill rate increase on top of the 4.70 per cent already proposed.

Colleen Schmidt of the Cathedral Area Co-operative Daycare was at Wednesday’s meeting. She said she’ll be there again on Dec. 17 to speak about how important daycares are to Regina.

She said she would welcome Young’s solution, though it isn’t quite what she was hoping for.

“Of course we were always seeking and still hope that maybe there will be some full exemption for us,” she said.

A full exemption would cost the city about $104,500 in lost taxes each year, according to administration.

Schmidt said a partial exemption is better than none.

It seems like many councillors are amenable to providing at least some tax relief. Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani warned that daycares in her area fill up quickly. She pointed to the crucial work they do in rearing Regina’s next generation.

“They are teaching our children for tomorrow,” said Bresciani.

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