Carrot River council approved a $17,084.98 tax refund to the Saskatchewan Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, after council learned they mistakenly have been taxing their in-town church property for two years.
Carrot River Gospel Chapel was founded in 1940. In 1959, it became a full-member of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, and in 2010, changed its name to the Carrot River Mennonite Brethren Gospel Mission.
The church closed its doors in 2019, and in May 2020, the location at 2032 Second Street northeast was put on the market.
Schools, public hospitals, churches or places of worship have exemptions for property tax in Saskatchewan.
Brennan Hall, Carrot River’s administrator, said the mistake seems to have stemmed from the location being for sale.
“A mistake was made and the tax exemption was lifted off the building, because staff at the time figured since it was for sale and not being used it could be taxed again,” Hall said.
For 2020 and 2021, Hall said the Saskatchewan Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches received taxes and paid it without question, until a short while ago a new board member who was aware of the legislation noticed an error.
“He got a hold of me,” he said. “After talking with government relations and my mentor and a few other people, we recognized it was an error – they should never have been taxed and that exemption should have been left alone.”
Hall said that the building will return to being taxed if it’s sold to someone else unaffiliated with a religious organization for a non-church related purpose.
Phillip Gunther, director of ministry with the Saskatchewan Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, said they’re happy with the outcome.
“We appreciate the decision the town council made,” Gunther said. “We will use those funds for ongoing ministry in Saskatchewan.”
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal