The County of Wetaskiwin, as it has done in the past, has cancelled the municipal portion of property taxes for church manses within the county for the 2017 fiscal year.
Generally, a manse is housing associated with a church that is usually used by the clergy.
Three readings of the bylaw authorizing the exemption were passed during county council’s May 2 general meeting. Coun. Larry McKeever voted against the bylaw during the first two readings but gave his support with the third reading to pass the bylaw. “I don’t want to hold the process up.”
This is not the first year McKeever spoke against the municipal tax exemption.
“This is my last opportunity to speak against this,” said McKeever, referring to his impending retirement from council.
“I just think it’s wrong to do this,” he added.
McKeever believes properties within the County of Wetaskiwin should be taxed fairly and consistently regardless of who is living in the residences.
Coun. Garry Dearing says the bylaw should be looked at as a positive and he is proud the county is able to provide the cancellation opportunity for the church manses.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says priests and ministers do a lot for the communities they live in, and council members in favour of the bylaw spoke to how small churches continue to struggle financially.
McKeever pointed out one does not have to be religiously affiliated to give to the community.
The amount of money exempted was not large. The 2017 tax levy totals $3,118 in canceled taxes.
Churches included in the bylaw include Malmo Mission Covenant Church, New Sweden Mission Church, Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, St. Peters Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mulhurst Lutheran Church, and Westerose Gospel Church.