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Letters: Question marks over tax relief for Richmond Oval

A Richmond News reader has a series of questions over how the City of Richmond works out tax relief
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A Richmond News reader has a series of questions over how the City of Richmond works out tax relief

Dear Editor,

Re: “Richmond veterans club faces $50K tax arrears, appeals to city council for relief,” Sept. 28, Letters.

The Sept. 28 edition of the News included a story about the city denying property tax relief for the ANAF 284 and Richmond Emmanual Church properties.

The city’s lawyer, Tony Capuccinello Iraci however, noted non-profits aren’t allowed tax exemptions if they run a commercial business.

How is it possible for the city-owned Richmond Olympic Oval Corporation (ROOC), operator of the city owned Richmond Olympic Oval (Oval), to be afforded property tax (municipal and non-municipal) relief without disclosing this cost to Richmond taxpayers?

Property tax is not identified in the ROOC-audited financial statements as an expense, if one is to believe the above. ROOC is a for-profit business.

I am unaware of where it appears in the City’s Annual Report as an expense. The value of tax relief provided to ROOC by the city, based on the July 1, 2022 BC Assessment (BCA) value for 6111 (Oval) and 6091 (Fields) River Rd of $356,177,500 for the year 2023 is $2,778,908.

While the city is withholding tax relief from those identified, the city continues to provide ROOC with truckloads of cash and cost relief.

The city relieves ROOC of paying fair-market rent benefits to the city for the benefit of taxpayers. ROOC gets the cost savings benefit.

Rent did not appear in the ROOC audited financial statements as an expense, or revenue benefit. The city did not identify the transfer as an expense to taxpayers.

Richmond taxpayers received the hidden bill. Based on the city record of affording rent relief of $808,500 annually for 10 years to a non-profit located at 6380 No. 3 Rd for a property valued at $16,654,000 on July 1, 2022 by BCA equates to fair market rent of $17,289,370 for the 6111 and 1091 Oval properties.

The city did not disclose the cost of transferring the benefits of annual Oval parking, lease, interest income, sponsorship and other revenue benefits to ROOC for Oval purposes at taxpayer expense.

The city contributed an additional $3,754,292 to ROOC in 2022. The 2022 ROOC annual report recorded ROOC achieving a $727,188 surplus in 2022.

ROOC has never generated sufficient revenues from memberships, admissions and programs to pay the cost of ROOC salaries and benefits.

The absence of ROOC ever generating cash dividends for the benefit of city taxpayers despite the generous transfers of cash and benefits by the city qualifies ROOC as a Zombie corporation, a white elephant and financial black hole. ROOC’s 1st Quarter 2023 Financial Information reported 71% of members were Richmond residents. The Report did not record member numbers.

ROOC provides four hours per day of free parking to members. Compare this with the $3.50 per hour parking at Richmond’s Hospital.

The last disclosure of ROOC’s Schedule of Remuneration and Expenses - was provided for 2019.

City taxpayers are being used as a cash cow to subsidize ROOC and the Oval with city complicity. An ownership change or closure are the best options for ending the financial damage.

The new ROOC Board of Directors have an onerous task ahead of them. The financial bleeding of city taxpayers must end.

Ken McLennan

Richmond

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