A majority of Smiths Falls town councillors have agreed that non-profit organizations should not be charged fees to run lotteries.
The provincial government allows municipalities issuing lottery licence to charge groups up to three per cent of the value of any prizes being awarded. Last year the town of Smiths Falls brought in over $17,000 in revenue by charging fees to issue lottery licences.
At a Dec. 19 meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole, town Deputy Clerk Nadine Bennett presented a report comparing fees charged by Smiths Falls to practices followed in neighbouring municipalities.
Councillors who felt that the licence fees were an unfair burden on volunteer-run service organizations had requested more information on the topic at an October meeting. The report presented various options, including eliminating licence fees altogether — which staff did not recommend, due to the loss of revenue, and the administrative costs involved in reviewing and issuing licences. Bennett noted that only groups doing charitable work are eligible to run lotteries.
“I’m not sure that this should be a cash revenue stream for the town,” said Councillor Jay Brennan at the Dec. 19 meeting. “It would be a fantastic gesture by this council to eliminate those fees.”
Councillor John Maloney suggested that the cost of administering lottery licences could be recovered from funds budgeted for community donations. “All these service clubs put that money back into the community,” he said.
Arguing that “nobody at the town hall works for nothing,” Councillor Dawn Quinn said she did not support eliminating the fees. “Somebody has to pay for this, and I don’t believe it should be the taxpayers of Smiths Falls,” she added.
With Councillor Lorraine Allen supporting Brennan and Maloney, a majority of committee members were in favour of doing away with the licence fees. The matter will be coming back to council for a final vote in January.