MELFORT — Council will allow the Northeast Christian Fellowship to use the Melfort Journal building as a place of worship – as long as it is brought up to code.
The decision was made at a special council meeting Aug. 23. The ownership of the building hasn't changed hands yet.
Changing the use of the property to a place of worship means the city will forego $5,880 in tax revenue, as churches aren’t taxed.
“There is some tax revenue loss involved but you know what? A church provides a valuable service to the community and the reality is that churches don’t pay taxes and that's the way it is,” said Rick Lang, Melfort's mayor. “You have two choices: you can stand in their way and be an obstacle, or you can work with them for the benefit of the community.”
Until the building is brought up to code, the Northeast Christian Fellowship would have to pay full taxes for a commercial property if they purchased it.
“We’re going to be checking on that and expecting they’re going to follow all of those regulations and conform to the letter,” Lang said. "Make no mistake about it: there is going to be no shortcuts with respect to making sure those rules are followed.”