"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Monday 29 April 2013

Just give us the facts

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "A conundrum": It’s not the SAC can’t pay the Town of Aurora for the development charges, it’s that if they can continue to defer it then it doesn’t come out of their bank accounts. In essence, they don’t have to pay at least for now and their money stays in the bank or gets put into other projects around their campus. They may be deemed non-profit and a charitable organization but these are just classifications to the government and how they run the school. In the end a private school, any private school is still a business. They have to collect revenue (tuition and gifts) and pay expenses (teachers’ salaries, administration and operational costs, marketing for new students, capital costs for buildings, etc). Being deemed non-profit by its very definition just means that any surplus revenue (after expenses) goes back into developing the school as opposed to going into some shareholders pockets. Being a charitable organization as defined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) means that they can issue official donation receipts for gifts to the school. So they can campaign their alumni for funds and give them tax receipts. You can look at CRA website and find that lots of private schools have charitable status including for example local to Aurora, Pickering College in Newmarket and Country Day School in King. They are set up to educate the students whose parents can afford to send them and want them in that school. Like any organization they will use the rules to their advantage. I am neutral to SAC, its students, their parents and alumni. Yes, it is good that they do work in the community. But if their argument is that they do so much good for the community and then ask for the tax break then essentially Aurora is paying (because it’s money out of the Town’s pocket, read as taxpayers) for the work that they do. The community work that they do would be deemed as part of the educational experience and the opportunity that they provide their students. Thus Aurora is subsidizing the students’ experience and essentially their tuition. If the tuition has to go up, so be it. Or find a way to reduce your costs. Don’t build such elaborate buildings, cut back on your programs. They are a business, be it a business of educating students for a fee. It is not as if their students don’t have other options – there are other private schools (also competing for students and their fees) and there is the public system. The school needs to pay their own way and this applies to any other school or organization in Aurora trying to do the same thing. What’s fair for one has to be fair for all. For everything that they do – they do it for their reasons not the Town’s. If they didn’t want to rent the soccer fields they wouldn’t or they would put the cost up so high the Town would say no. And if they did the Town would have to find another solution. Yes, hosting the Special Olympics is a good thing, but they still get something out of it even if they are doing it for free. It’s an opportunity for their students to perhaps volunteer, for their school to be associated with the Special Olympics - certainly that’s good public relations. In the end everything they do is towards getting and retaining their paying students. That is their purpose. Nobody (at least almost nobody) does anything for free, there is always some return for them be it experiential, emotional,


Anonymous said...

I thank that poster for the clarification of terms which has been bothersome since the Centre's declaration of non-profit status. We are just going to have to look past the labels to see what each organization actually does for Aurora & if they contribute to the tax revenue. Truth in Advertising ? I don't think so but I can see their reasoning & it is legal.

Anonymous said...

8:33 AM
SAC will continue to accept Aurora's contributions to their well-being as long as Council are gullible enough to hand them such a gift. This is the same Council that refuses to give a single one-time donation to the Food Pantry. What double-standards!

Anonymous said...

I don’t understand the reasoning of some councillors. I read Brock Weir’s report in The Auroran under the heading “St. Andrew’s College plans get go-ahead”.

SAC is being allowed to defer $240, 000 of development charges. The agreement states until “a substantial change of use occurs, or a change of ownership occurs on the property.” Slim chance there will be a change of use or perhaps in 40/50 years if they tear down the buildings only to build anew again. Or a change of ownership … are they really going to sell off their property. NO. So the $240K is never going come to the Town and it is argued that is the price the Town is paying for SAC’s works and contributions to the Town. (Other organizations should take note at how this is done and how to campaign to Town Council as a precedent continues to be set).

Councillor Abel says: “Growth pays for growth and since there is no impact on our community from our infrastructure, it is a very reasonable decision for me to defer those DCs,” he said. “I often look at what are the plusses and paybacks and it goes on and on for SAC.”

How about the minuses - $240K that could have gone into the development of the Town’s infrastructure, to the upkeep of the Town’s arena’s etc. It’s not as if there is an agreement in place that gives the Town specific use of facilities in lieu of payment at a fair market rate.

Councillor Thompson says: “Either they pass it on to the students in tuition increases, or it means they have to go back out into the community and fundraise some more,” said Councillor Thompson.

They are a private school. They are a business. So they pass it on to tuition increases. Whose community will they go back to fundraise – their community – their alumni. Do you think the average Auroran is going to contribute to a private school when their children don’t or won’t be going to it. SAC has to cope, SAC has to survive on their own as a viable business. Thompson continues: “Our willingness to defer is really an investment not just in the community but in education.” Yes, private education. Not public education. Public education is available to all. Private education is available to those who can afford it and who want their child to attend that particular school.

I have to give credit where credit is due. At least Councillor Ballard is speaking some sense. (Ballard & Buck voted against the motion).

As taken from The Auroran:

Explaining his vote, Councillor Ballard said he was still on the fence and would have liked Town Staff to take another kick at the can in coming to an agreement – such as agreeing to waive – rather than defer – the payment of fees in exchange for community use of the facilities.

The Town rolled for SAC. No matter what their activities all the school, charities, organizations seeking Town support should readily pay attention. You now have a precedent to approach the Town for your needs. Use it to your advantage.

(If the Town feels guilty of collecting the $240K give it over the Food Pantry and give SAC the tax receipt.)

Anonymous said...

SAC apparently has 255 boarders and 355 day students so a total of 610 students. Divide the $240,00 by 600 that's $400 per student for a one time fee increase. Spread it out over 5 years that's $80 per year or over 10 years it $40 per year. Are parents of SAC students going to pull them out over this? Come on let's get realistic. I see lots of our universities tacking on to student fees separate charges for phys-ed complex developments, or future student scholarship, lab equipment replacements, etc. to help keep the school current beyond what the tuition and government supplies. SAC is simply going to rent their facilities when they are not using them in order to offset their own running costs. Their schedule of course will come 1st and if they can make money in the down times why wouldn't they do it. They do things for their reasons not the Town's. If SAC did it right all the parents would probably get a tax receipt for this as a donation to the school as opposed to be part of the tuition fee.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the bottom line is that most of council sees $240K as being peanuts to the main scheme of things in the Town's budget. So it's insignificant money whether it comes in or not. And if SAC were not made to pay it they would hold a vendetta against the Town and its citizens. The other reasoning is that we need that money so we can provide and upkeep the roads that run to your campus, the water pipes that will flood your arenas, etc. the sidewalks your students use to walk on to the shops, etc.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:49 AM
Perhaps, if you have the time &/or inclination, you might speak to Brock about a monthly column: " It's The Numbers, Stupid " ? You could certainly get more readers than that guy on his porch. Maybe Brock would let you retain your anonymity ?