THREE Bayswater councillors have lodged protest votes against an ancient policy exempting churches and charities from paying rates, with one saying “everyone should pay their fair share”.
The council’s policy is based on a state law which declares land isn’t rateable if it’s used exclusively for charity or worship-related activities.
Recently the Chin Emmanuel Church in Embleton and Maylands-based charity Communicare both applied for a rates exemption under that policy.
At the September 22 council meeting councillor Michelle Sutherland requested the items be brought up for discussion so she could vote against them. Cr Catherine Ehrhardt and Steven Ostaszewskyj likewise lodged no votes, with Cr Ostaszewskyj explaining simply: “I just think everyone should pay their fair share.”
Cr Sally Palmer said it was clear the organisations qualified under the policy, and the majority of councillors agreed. The church saves $4,488, Communicare saves $1,830.
Communicare is a men’s domestic violence counselling and accommodation service. Residents do pay to stay at the facility, making up about 30 per cent of its yearly revenue. But it doesn’t cover the full cost of services and the council report says it is classed as a charity under the four-century old “Charitable Uses Act of 1601” passed by the Tudor-era British parliament.
A third group, Potters House Christian Centre based in Morley, also sought exemption on its $18,874 rates bill.
The council said no, “because the property is not used as a place of public worship.
“The actual use of this land is predominantly for weekly theatre, live music and live testimonials,” which wasn’t considered a benefit to the broader community.
by DAVID BELL