Roughriders not worried about property tax exemption criticism

Reginans wonder why the team doesn't have to pay its property tax bill
Reported by Kevin Martel
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With a hefty property tax increase finalized, many Reginans are wondering why the profitable Saskatchewan Roughriders football team is being let off the hook for its tax bill.

The public concern softened somewhat after City Council reduced a proposed seven per cent tax increase to a slightly-slimmer 5.89 per cent. That's still as high an increase as has been seen in Regina in more than a decade, and it's left many Reginans wondering why the Roughriders qualify for a $55,000 property tax exemption for its three local properties.

“No, that’s not fair because that [money] can go back into the community,” one woman said. “There’s a lot of businesses here that do a lot more for the community themselves than just entertainment.”

The team has been up and down in terms of its success over the years. However, in the last two years the Riders have posted profits of $1.1 million and $4.5 million respectively.

“The Riders make a lot of money off the fans to begin with. I think it’s a lot to ask for money back too,” expressed one man.

“If they have the money to pay the tax they should,” said another man. “I would rather see a guy that doesn’t earn enough get a tax break.”

On Tuesday, the Finance and Administration Committee passed a report that would send the tax exemption list—which includes 36 properties—to a City Council meeting on March 24 for final approval. That list includes the Roughriders, but the majority are government-owned properties, community and non-profit groups, and schools.

Jim Hopson, the Riders CEO and President, was not available to comment on the exemption this week. However, the team clarified that it doesn't apply for a tax break every year; it’s part of an ongoing agreement with the city, dating back to the 1980s when the team's financial performance was much more tumultuous. The City said the ultimate decision is up to City Council, as organizations on the exemptoin list remain there until Council removes them.