Daycare board, council discuss tax break

Board says if taxes waived, funds would go to future capital investment

September 25, 2023, 2:59 pm
Kevin Weedmark

The Play Fair Daycare building in Moosomin.

Members of the Play Fair Daycare board met with Moosomin town council at the latest council meeting to discuss property taxes on the day care building.

Jalisa Miller, Samantha Campbell and Jill Jones of the day care board met with council.

“First we would just like to thank the town council for the $1,500 per new daycare spot that you guys committed to back in May,” Miller said. “This will help us with a portion of the renovations that we’ll need to do to the building in order to accommodate those spots, if or when we receive those. It is very much appreciated. We are requesting a property tax exemption for our facility.

“As you are aware, property taxes alone this year for the daycare were $21,000. This is a huge amount for any non-profit organization to have to come up with year after year. We have recently navigated a few very difficult years with Covid and now the new government funding program.

“We are really proud that we have managed to come out close to break even every year and throughout all this uncertainty we have been able to manage to do a number of upgrades to the building, we put in a new kitchen, bathroom sinks, and this summer we did flooring throughout the whole facility. The next on the list is the backyard.

“As a board it is super important for us that we continue to maintain and upgrade our building because we know how important daycare is to families in the community and for economic growth of the town as well. We have 36 infants on the wait list for 2024 and 26 already on the wait list for 2025.

“If our taxes were waived, we are proposing to take this money and set it aside in a separate account, we would use this money in the future to invest in upgrades and expansions of the facility, which at some point may result in a second daycare building.

“We are very limited on what we can pay our current staff and as a result we see a lot of turnover of staff. By using this separate fund for building maintenance and upgrades, we would be able to use this operating cash to give the staff higher wages to better support staff attraction and retention in the future.

“We have provided a list of communities in Saskatchewan that are currently receiving tax exemptions,” she adds. “This information came from a survey that was done about four years ago so it is a little bit old but the list of communities is likely even larger now.

“There are also a number of childcare centers that are currently bringing forward the same request that we are tonight to their councils, and from what we’ve looked into even the facilities that are paying taxes especially in the local area, they are paying significantly less then we are.

“Lastly, most if not all other non-profits in Moosomin are currently receiving tax exemptions, our daycare is one the most important facilities that we have in our community, so why would we be treated any differently than the other non-profits?

“Without a daycare facility that can attract and retain employees, expand as necessary and stay current with renovations and maintenance required, the town’s economic growth will be limited. The future of the town is dependant on having childcare facilities that can accommodate the development and growth in the community.

“Both the town and the daycare need to work together in order to achieve success. Our final ask is that the town help support our facility and its continued growth that is so important to our community, the same way that you have been supporting other non-profits by waiving our taxes.”

Mayor Larry Tomlinson said he agrees that more daycare spaces are needed.

“I sit on the Health Care Foundation Board and this is a major problem for our nurses who are going back to work,” he said. “If they can’t get their kids into daycare, they can’t go to work.

“I think there are four nurses right now that want to come back and can’t because they don’t have any child care.”

Councillor Murray Gray said the Economic Development Committee has been working with the daycare board on adding spaces.

“We may have made some headway with that and then they changed the ministers again, but I still feel as though, from anybody that I’ve talked to, that in the ministry below the minister they realize that it’s important because with everything we’ve added here, the number of day care spaces that we have is the same as the number of spaces ten years ago,” he says.

“We’re working on trying to get those extra spaces. From an economic development standpoint it is important to add spaces. You’re trying to attract new people to your community and you’re trying to attract new businesses and we’ve got lots of other plans to add more businesses and we’ve got nowhere for the kids. It’s hindering the growth.”

“I like what you said about the money not going into general revenues how it and gets used to operate the daycare,” adds Gray.

“The money that we collect as taxes is how we run the town. There’s a lot of things that need to be done and there are a lot of people that come to us saying we need this, we need that. There’s a lot of ask, but I think the suggestion you made tonight is good and I think that needs to be considered from our standpoint as well.

“The daycare is near and dear to my heart just because of my involvement and my nine years as chair. I am hearing a lot about it from the Economic Development side. Anyone we talk to wants to know about your school, healthcare, daycare and recreation facilities. Anybody you talk to that’s talking about coming to our community—those are the four asks.”

Town council has the authority to cancel taxes on properties for economic development purposes.

“In this case it really is economic development,” said Gray. “It is 100 per cent. There’s no gray area to that. There is no gray area to whether that is economic development or not.”

The issue will be discussed again at a future town council meeting where the whole council is present. Two councillors were away from the last meeting.