Seaside Centre seeking stability through property tax rate

The outside of the blue Seaside Centre on a sunny day
The Seaside Centre. Photo courtesy of Damien van den Berg.
Ed Halverson - QCCR - LiverpoolNS | 23-02-2021

A local community centre is looking to collect funding from area residents property tax bills.

The Seaside Recreation and Community Centre is asking Region of Queens council to approve an area rate of four cents on every hundred dollars of assessed property value for residents of Beach Meadows, Eagle Head, West Berlin, East Berlin and Port Medway.

On a $150,000 home, the area rate would amount to an extra $60 on the homeowners property tax bill.

The treasurer of the volunteer board operating the Seaside Community Centre Damien van den Berg understands no one wants to see their taxes go up, but hopes when people understand the situation they will get on board.

“Even just putting paint on the wall is difficult unless you’ve got money to do that,” said van den Berg. “Primarily the challenge has been operating a building versus operating a community centre.”

van den Berg says the board would like to focus on repairing the basketball courts, fixing up trails and painting lines for pickleball to attract more users but can’t because they’re working on keeping the lights on every month.

Figures submitted by the board to the Region of Queens show an operating deficit of over $6,000 for 2020.

During the year, Seaside Centre received almost $2,000 in donations and raised $358 from an online raffle.

The group has applied to the federal and provincial government for grants to make the basement level fully accessible. The federal funding will build a ramp and renovate the existing washrooms. While the money from the province will go to install seven heat pumps to lower the heating costs and provide better control over the temperature and humidity.

But neither of those grants will assist in the day-to-day operations of the recreation centre.

van den Berg is concerned the centre cannot continue to rely on donations to fund their activities and needs to find a steady stream of income to go forward. The area rate is expected to provide $35,000 each year

“The cost associated to that increase is quite low year over year, like $50-$60 a year isn’t a significant amount of money from an assessment perspective in order to have a facility that supports the community,” said van den Berg.

He believes the community is looking for the Seaside Centre to be more than it is. And if the area rate is approved, they will have the stability to return their focus from maintaining a building to upgrading the facility and improving their offerings.

“I like to say I’d rather buy a bunch of hockey sticks and hockey nets for the kids that are in the community than being able to turn the lights on,” said van den Berg.

Area residents will have a say in whether or not they’re willing to foot the bill.

A vote will be held on the proposed area rate at the Seaside Centre on March 3.

To cast a ballot, a person must be 18 years of age, a Canadian citizen and permanently reside in Beach Meadows, Eagle Head, East Berlin, West Berlin, or Port Medway on March 3.

The vote itself will not determine whether or not the area rate will go ahead. The results will be presented to Region of Queens council and used as part of their process as they decide whether or not to introduce the area rate during their annual budget deliberations over the next month.

Reported by Ed Halverson 
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

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