A request from the Boys and Girls Club to do something about its almost-$40,000 property tax bill has caught Thunder Bay city council by surprise.

The club told council at Tuesday night's budget meeting the organization is now being billed for property taxes, after being exempt for nearly 40 years.

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Thunder Bay's Boys and Girls Club is facing a mounting tax bill and has asked the city for help. (Supplied)

The club's executive director said it owes $10,000 for this year, and another $28,000 in arrears.

"This is all news to us," Albert Aiello said. "We've been in that new facility since 2008, and we got a bill halfway through 2010 that says all [of] the sudden we owe these property taxes."

Change in assessment

The Club had never paid property tax before, as it was recognized as a charity. It once made its home in an old church in the city’s East End, but after it bought the former Forest Park School from Lakehead Public Schools, the title change sparked  interest from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.

MPAC assessed the property and determined that, because the Boys and Girls Club doesn't exclusively provide services for needy families, it is not eligible for exemption from property taxes.

Having to pay that much in property tax would devastate the Boys and Girls Club, said the club’s board president.

"An impact of $10,000, for example, that could be one breakfast club site," Pat Suddaby said.

Although the group received a big property tax bill a few years ago, it took until 2012 to sort out the details.

Council voted to get more information from administration on how to handle the club's tax situation.