SUFFOLK--The Suffolk City Council voted Wednesday night to put a stop to non-profit groups applying for tax-exempt status for city property taxes.

The vote came at the suggestion of city staff, who said a two-year study of the issue revealed the measure was costing the city money.

According to Debbie George, Chief of Staff for the City of Suffolk, the current property tax exemptions issued in the city amounts to 15 cents for every dollar paid in city property taxes.

Until Wednesday's vote, non-profit organizations were eligible to apply for property tax exemptions that would waive their entire property tax bill. In addition to non-profit organizations, government property, churches, veterans and disabled and elderly property owners are also eligible to apply for a property tax exemptions.

The moratorium on applications for property tax exemptions only applies to non-profit organizations.

George said that many non-profits were applying for the property tax exemptions even though they could afford the tax bill.

City Councilman Mike Duman voted against the moratorium. He said in an interview Friday he thinks the city council can curtail the number of non-profit organizations granted property tax exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

'Maybe subject them to additional scrutiny and reserve that exemption for only the most deserving organizations,' Duman said.

Duman said he doesn't think the city's finances are in such bad shape that it can't afford to exempt deserving non-profits from paying their property tax bill.

As a result, Duman plans to introduce a measure to lift the moratorium during the next round of budget discussions.

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