Council proposes new Ships Company tax exemption

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
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PARRSBORO After starting the summer on barely speaking terms, the Town of Parrsboro and Ships Company Theatre have ended the season with a probable agreement on the companys tax bill.

PARRSBORO After starting the summer on barely speaking terms, the Town of Parrsboro and Ships Company Theatre have ended the season with a probable agreement on the companys tax bill.

After meetings of a committee made up of representatives of both the town and the theatre throughout the summer months, the town has given a little ground and is now offering to tax the theatre on only 12 per cent of its property, rather than the 22 per cent previously assessed as commercial.

It was through new information made available at these committee meetings that prompted the town to have its change of heart, according to Mayor Doug Robinson, who said the information showed that assessing the space as 12 per cent commercial and 88 per cent cultural could be fair.

Either way could be acceptable, depending how you divided it up, said Robinson. It was the decision of council that, because of the strain on Ships Company Theatre, we would be doing it by area as opposed to by cost.

Although not yet aware of all the details, Ships Company general manager Chuck Homewood was pleased with the news.

The 88-12 split was what the theatre believed to be a more correct assessment from the beginning, according to Homewood, who said they had been hopeful an agreeable solution would be found.

Im thrilled, and you can put that in bold, capital letters, he said. Its good news for us because that 22 per cent was totally unafforable. This is a wonderful step in the right direction.

Council passed the first reading of the necessary amendment to its tax exemption bylaw at its Sept. 25 session. The second and final reading, which will include a public hearing, will probably take place at the next regular council meeting in October, according to the mayor.

If passed, the changes will not take effect until the new asseessment year on April 1, 2008.

The town and the theatre have been at odds since the companys new theatre facility was constructed in 2004. Ships Company has argued for tax-free status, like other theatres in the region have been afforded by their municipalities.

The relationship soured with the exchange of letters between the two sides, and tensions escalated with a public campaign waged by Ships Company and its supporters over the summer.

Cooler heads prevailed when representatives from the town joined members of the theatres board of directors to form a negotiating committee. The new agreement is a net result of the work of that committee, according to both sides.

Organizations: Ships Company, Parrsboro and Ships Company Theatre

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