In an effort to avoid passing on costs to its seniors, the Rev. W. J. Phillips Residence in Alberton has requested an exemption on paying municipal taxes for the 2020 season from town council.

“Our mandate is to provide affordable accommodations and service options, so we try to keep our rents as low as possible,” said Colleen Parker, executive director at the Phillips Residence. “But with the increasing cost of everything, from fuel, to electricity, to food, we’re looking for ways to balance the budget and not have to pass on the cost to our residents.”

The Phillips Residence, which operates under the company ERC Concepts Ltd, pays $3,954.72 a year in municipal taxes. 

The residence offers two levels of service. The first is 14 assisted living apartments for those who are able to find most of the independence that they need, but have some support. The second level of care is known as community care. Right now there are 20 beds in the community care section of the Phillips Residence. Three meals a day are included for those in community care, and is optional for the apartment residents, as they have their own kitchens and can choose to cook for themselves.

The apartments at the Phillips Residence were installed in the 1990s.

“We’re seeing a levelling off in the demand for apartments,” said Fred O’Brien, chair of the ERC Board of Directors during a presentation to Alberton Town Council on Nov 12. “To that point, we’re taking six of them and we’re looking to divert them to the higher demand area, to the community care level. Each apartment can be turned into two community care rooms, and we’re in the process of doing that right now.”

There are about 10 to 15 in the area currently waiting for one of the long-term care beds in the region.

In order to provide some flexibility should the residence decide to expand, an adjoining property was purchased a couple of years ago.

Mr O’Brien said the company is a not-for profit, but that doesn’t mean it can run at a loss. With the conversion the Phillips Residence is involved in over the next few months, it’s going to have to lose rent before it can get rent, meaning things are a little tight these days.

“We do recognize that you have a lot of demands on your funds,” Mr O’Brien said in his address to council. “Any consideration you give to us would be greatly appreciated. We certainly appreciate the moral support. Mr Mayor, you’ve been to many of our events, and regardless of your decision, we hope that will continue.”

Mayor David Gordon said at this point in time council is working on its budget for the 2020 year. Before a decision can be made on the matter, he advised Mr O’Brien to have a proposal drawn up stating exactly what the board wants. Council will read over the proposal and make a decision on the matter at that time. 

Mr Gordon thanked Mr O’Brien for bringing the proposal forward, and said council wants to work with the Phillips Residence the best it can.

“We would like to think we promote the dignity and well being of those who are receiving the services, and make every effort to continue to do that,” Mr O’Brien concluded.

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