June 17, 2017 5:34 pm
Updated: June 19, 2017 1:45 pm

City property tax eating up not for profit cemetery funds, management says

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WINNIPEG — Annual budgets for religious and not for profit cemeteries across the city are taking a massive hit due to a city property tax, according to cemetery managers.

Executive director at Old Kildonan Cemetery, George Fraser, said frontage levy fees have been increasing in Winnipeg over the past three years, making it hard for religious and not for profit cemeteries to stay afloat.

“If they continue to do that, it will cut out any sources of revenue that we have,” Fraser said.

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Because cemetery spaces are so large, Fraser said the fee can add up quickly. At Old Kildonan Cemetery, Fraser is due to pay an annual bill of $8,600 to the city for the tax. That amount is about half of his budget for maintenance.

He said he knows of at least nine other cemeteries in Winnipeg facing the same problem.

As a result, Fraser said he may have to consider handing over the keys to Old Kildonan Cemetery to the city if things don’t change.

“If everything fails, all the tax payers through the city of Winnipeg will have to take over the operation of this cemetery.”

Further West in the city, management at St. James Cemetery said they may have to consider handing over their keys much sooner.

Margaret Steele is the manager at St. James Cemetery.

“We are within a year or two,” Steele said.

This year, Steele said her cemetery is due to pay a $6,000 bill for frontage levy fees.

“There’s no way our church can take this on,” she said.

“It’s just a no win situation.”

Steele said she hopes to sell more sites for burials in the future to keep her management viable.

In the meantime, city council has recommended a review of frontage levy fees for religious and not for profit cemeteries.

Winnipeg Public Service will report back to council on the subject by July 30.

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