Municipal tax system in need of review
At the Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) conference, the receipt of the notice of assessment is a reminder to once again encourage the minister of municipal affairs — and our municipal leaders — to review through consultations to introduce a fair and equitable tax system for private land owners in our municipalities.
Previous correspondence with the ministers and MNL on the issue failed to create any response or activity; it appears they are content to follow the status quo.
It is necessary to bring the legislation into the 21st century and eliminate this abnormally. This system provides no relationship between the services provided and the tax invoiced to property owners.
The irregularity of the tax issue with respect to property tax is outdated; all residential tax charged by a municipality should be the same amount per household with the exception of maybe a pro-rated base amount for such things as property frontage and residents housing apartments.
It is unfair to the residents to charge a tax related to these factors. There is no common denominator to determine the levy based on these criteria. This legislation is obsolete, does not bring parity to the tax and must be taken under review by the department to bring equality to the tax system used by municipalities.
The title of the tax on the invoice and on the details in the budget document is irrelevant to the invoicing referring to the tax as a property tax when in fact it is a fee-forservice (set out to cover the cost of services such as snow clearing, garbage collection, fire protection, street lighting, transportation, street maintenance and municipal enforcement) as outlined in the description in budget details.
This provides an opportune time to correct these discrepancies and policies prior to the next taxation year. Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador describes the present system has built around the ability to pay, tunnel vision. A legislation review is required, both levels of government appear unwilling to tackle the issue. Instead, they continue this disproportion tax.
The proposal will directly affect the Municipal Assessment Agency as it existence will not be required, eliminating its operation cost to the municipalities, thus a saving to municipal taxpayers. This new proposal will not use the assessed property value to determine the property tax; a fair fee for service will replace property tax.
A new system, through consultations, will improve the tax system and establish a fair and equitable system, effective and efficient, a uniform tax base for the taxpayer.
The new tax base value assigned will remain with the property for its entire life, thus providing an easier calculation of taxes annually for the budget process for municipalities, as there will be only one variable — the mill rate.
This will eliminate a cover to disguise tax increases by municipalities during the setting of the mill rate, hiding behind the increases in assessment values.
Municipal governments, not unlike our provincial government, find it quite difficult to hold the line on spending. Their recipe for re-election success is to increase their revenues as an opportunity presents itself, regardless of the consequence on its residents. Boyd Legge Mount Pearl