The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) has approved a motion to raise the property tax threshold in an attempt to help low incomes families.
In addition to increasing eligibility, MODL’s council also changed the policy to include area rates during their Jan. 22 meeting.
Elana Wentzell, MODL’s director of financial services, said the changes would alleviate the tax burden for families across the municipality.
“By including area rates in the tax definition and increasing the tax rebate amounts and threshold, council is alleviating the tax burden for low incomes homeowners and meeting its strategic goal of making life more affordable for residents,” wrote Wentzell via email.
The changes will make homeowners with household incomes below $29,999 eligible to receive up to a $500 tax rebate.
Previously, only homeowners making below $24,999 were able to apply for the rebate; Wentzell said the new limits will make an additional 600 households eligible.
Prior to re-examining the tax rebate, MODL had budgeted $74,800 for the program for each of the last three fiscal years.
But one of the reasons for re-examining the program was that residents weren’t tapping into the rebate under the old thresholds.
$14,253 of budgeted money was left on the table in 2018.
In a previous interview with the South Shore Breaker, MODL Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson said the leftover funds made changes necessary.
“If people are not able to apply because of our thresholds, we need to look at what we’re doing,” said Bolivar-Getson.
“They need to be reflective of the population that we’re serving and making sure we’re allocating so many dollars.”
Given the changes, said Wentzell, the draft budget has been increased to $88,000.
Bolivar-Getson said council was pleased with their decision to make the rebate more accessible.
“This council believes in doing what we can to make home ownership more affordable for low income families and we believe that this change will be welcomed by the community,” she said.
Both Bolivar-Getson and Wentzell said MODL would develop a communication strategy to help the community tap into the rebate.
Information on how to apply for the program will be shared across social media, MODL’s website and the municipality newsletter.
More information is available at www.modl.ca/i-want-to/apply-for/property-tax-exemption.