ARICHAT: A request for tax exempt status sparked debate as it comes while the municipality makes changes to related policies and by-laws.
During the regular monthly meeting of Richmond Municipal Council on February 25 in Arichat, council gave notice that it will introduce a motion at March’s meeting to amend the municipal grant policy.
During the meeting, Deputy Warden Brian Marchand’s request to make the proposed grant policy changes public was denied by Warden Jason MacLean.
“There needs to be a recommendation that comes from staff to council with regards to some of the changes,” MacLean told council.
Following the meeting, the deputy warden talked about some of the proposed changes to the grant policy.
“There’s going to be changes with the whole structure to give some financial constraints,” Marchand explained. “We decided to look at the grant policy on the whole; look at the issues that we had with the grant policy and make some changes. That will be coming out of another meeting with all those changes. We just have to get it through staff and council again.”
Council also gave notice to make changes to By-law #56, capping the number of entities seeking tax exempt status.
Later in the meeting, council approved a tax exemption request from Société Vitalité Isle Madame.
Marchand wanted to know how much the group is paying in taxes, to which CAO Kent MacIntyre responded that the assessment on the society’s property is roughly $2,900, for which they pay $30 per year in municipal taxes.
“It does come at a bad time when we’re speaking of limiting any other ones, but that hasn’t been done yet so I’ll support it,” Marchand told council. “They’re a not-for-profit organization and they do some good things.”
During the question period near the conclusion of the meeting, St. Peter’s resident Germaine MacDonald asked why that tax exemption request was approved while the municipality is changing its tax exemption by-law.
“You’re always focused on policy, and tonight we saw a flip,” MacDonald said, noting she is not against that specific request but the process used to approve it.
Marchand added that council merely issued a notice it was making the changes, and if other groups approach the municipality in the meantime, they will also be considered.
“We decided to support that request, but if there’s anybody between now and when we put a cap on any new additions, we’ll have to look at those and make a decision at that meeting.”