RQM council nixes area rate increase to assist Seaside Centre

·2 min read

Funding challenges are set to continue for the Seaside Community Centre in Beach Meadows, Queens County.

The region of Queens Municipality (RQM) council has nixed the request from the centre’s board of directors for the region to levy a four-cent per $100 of assessment area rate for the next five years to all assessment accounts in Assessment District 7.

This included the residents in Beach Meadows, Eagle Head, West and East Berlin and Port Medway areas.

As part of the request process, a public vote was held March 3 at Seaside Recreation Centre. A total of 223 residents voted – with 192 aagainst the incresead levy and just 30 in favour of it.

The public vote was not binding, but it was expected to influence the RQM council’s decision over the issue when it came to a vote in the chambers March 23.

“It was a big ask. The community certainly displayed their view of that. Those who would have been affected certainly made their intentions known and the council stood by the majority of those people,” commented RQM Mayor Darlene Norman. “While it’s recognized that community halls are very important to communities for social gathering and in times of need, however, it was clearly illustrated that people were not prepared to put their tax money towards that.”

Sandy Cross, president of the Seaside Centre board of directors, had an inkling of what the council vote would be.

“It was not the decision I was hoping for, but deep down I knew they would turn it down given the vote count,” said Cross in an email. “I feel they are hoping the community will rally around and help us. I will say one thing, the small board is not ready to throw the towel in yet.”

The application to RQM council shows that the centre had an operating deficit in 2019-20 of $6,346 on revenues of $19,586 and expenses of $25,932. The proposed 2021-22 budget reflects expected revenues of $27,950 and expenses of $26,974, leaving a slim surplus of $975.

The board at the Seaside Centre was making the request largely because costs associated with its fundraising efforts have increased, resulting in fewer operating funds.

Costs to maintain and run the facility itself also continue to increase, while the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the revenue associated to rentals and fundraising activities. The ask was also to make the building more accessible and give the board the ability to upgrade, repair their current assets and also add new ones.

The four-cent tax increase would have raised about $34,800 in the first year.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin