Other sources of income provide stability for municipalities: Oldford
Karen Oldford said municipalities in the western region are pleased that a consultation on municipal property assessments is going to happen.
Property assessments were just one of the topics discussed when municipal leaders gathered in Corner Brook for Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) western regional meeting over the weekend. About 60 people attended the two-day meeting held at the Glynmill Inn. It was the last of the group’s annual meetings to be held.
Oldford is the president of MNL. The group is partnering with the provincial government and the Municipal Assessment Agency on the consultation.
And as at the other regional meetings, she said municipalities in this region are looking forward to having their residents be able and get out and participate in the process.
“But also, I guess, really looking to see how can we improve the systems and recognizing, like us, that property tax can’t be their only be all and end all form of income.”
Part of the fiscal framework work that economist Wade Locke did for the group a number of years ago showed that having a share of income tax and or sales tax are alternatives.
“That kind of sharing of income from other levels of government would be beneficial,” said Oldford. “It would give municipalities access to steady income.” Similar, she said, to what the federal government does with the gas tax now on a sliding scale.
“It’s something municipalities can look forward to. They can plan for it. They can do multi-year capital works. That’s the kind of stability they need.”
Oldford said the partners are currently working out the terms of reference for the consultations and expects the process will move ahead quickly after the budget is brought down this week.
“Government wants this review to happen as much as we do,” she said.
And MNL will be encouraging people to participate.
Oldford said a lot of people don’t understand how the current process works.
“So by coming to the sessions they’ll get an opportunity to get more educated on this process, on how property assessments do work and what are the various options that have been used in other centres and other provinces and countries to improve on that.”
While all the recommendations from the consultation will go to government, MNL will also be putting together a document of what’s heard that it will use and send to its members.